Bosses at Melton’s Twinlakes Park said they’d done ‘everything they possibly could in the quickest time possible’ since being made aware of an outbreak of a sickness bug linked to people visiting its animal farm.
At the time of going to press Public Health England said there been 11 confirmed cases of visitors suffering from symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis - a infection often caught from handling affected animals, especially newborn lambs.
The main symptom of the bug is watery diarrhoea which can range from mild to severe.
Public Health England said it was working with the farm at the park as well as the East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, the Health and Safety Executive and Melton Borough Council to investigate the source of the outbreak and provide public health advice to those affected and to the farm on limiting the spread of the illness.
Public Health England consultant in communicable disease control Dr Philip Monk said: “Contact with farm animals carries a risk of infection because of the bugs they naturally carry.
“It’s very easy to touch animals or surfaces which carry these and then people, especially children, put their fingers in or near their mouths without first washing their hands adequately and they become infected.
“So it’s important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with animals, especially before eating and drinking.”
A Public Health England spokeswoman said there were 11 confirmed cases but no new ones since Friday.
A statement posted on Twinlakes’ website today (Monday, April 25) said: “On Saturday (April 23) Twinlakes Park was notified by the Health and Safety Executive that some guests that had visited the orphan lambs had suffered from symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis. We are acting on information that potentially links the lambs with these visitors contracting the symptoms.
“As a voluntary and precautionary measure the lambs have been removed from the farm. We have done everything we possibly can in the quickest time possible since being notified on Saturday.”
It added: “The parent company of Twinlakes Park has been operating visitor attractions since 1989. We have welcomed millions of visitors to our parks since and in all our history of operating farm zoos this is the first instance that we have potentially been linked to any outbreak of this type. The health of our customers is and always will be absolutely paramount.”
Public Health England has advised that anyone suffering with Cryptosporidiosis must wash their hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet and before preparing or eating food and should drink plenty of fluids. Children must not attend childcare, nursery or school until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours. Symptoms can persist for up to a week. Anyone worried about their illness is advised to contact their GP.
For more information on how to avoid infections on farm visits visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/farm-visits-avoiding-infection