E. coli outbreak: thousands of children at risk

Manager of farm where victims contracted disease says he did nothing wrong

Health officials have warned that thousands of young children and families could be at risk of contracting E. coli after visiting a popular children's farm. Twelve children aged between 18 months and 10 years are being treated for the O157 strain of bacteria after visiting Godstone Farm in Surrey. Yesterday, three of the affected children remained "seriously ill" in hospital.

Neil Wilson, an uncle of one of the sick children, spoke of the "nightmare" his family is experiencing. He said: "It's been a living hell. It seems quite surreal going in and each day seeing him getting worse and worse, feeding tubes and blood going in."

The Health Protection Agency said more children could fall ill following the long incubation period and the possibility of person-to-person contact that increased the likelihood of infection among children and families. Thirty-six cases have been reported so far.

There was concern yesterday at the length of time taken to close the farm after the outbreak last month. The Independent was told that the first case of 0157 bacteria was reported on 27 August which resulted in increased signage across the farm urging visitors to wash their hands. But it was not until 5 September that visitor contact with animals was stopped in an attempt to contain the outbreak.



Evelina Niedzwiedzka, 28, from Croydon, south London, who visited the farm recently with her 23-month-old daughter, said: "If the farm did know about it two weeks ago, I'm very surprised there were no warnings, especially as children are so vulnerable."

Dr Angela Iverson, director of Surrey and Sussex Health Protection Agency, said: "We have isolated cases of 0157 reported from time to time and if we shut every petting farm on a single case, we'd be closing down a lot of farms regularly."

The source of the outbreak had not been confirmed last night, but health officials believe it could have come when children petted infected animals, transferring bacteria from faeces to their hands and then on to their mouths.

Yesterday, Richard Oatway, manager of Godstone Farm, said the farm had "done enough" to encourage children to wash their hands after touching the animals. "All the staff at the farm are very upset about the outbreak and we hope that all the children make a full and speedy recovery. We have taken the decision to close the farm until the authorities have finished their investigations. These have been very thorough and are still ongoing."

Health authorities are advising anyone who has become ill after visiting the farm since 8 August, or members of their household, to seek medical advice immediately. Echerichia coli, or E. coli, is a common bacterium that lives in the intestines of most warm-blooded animals, including humans. Most strains are harmless and can even be beneficial to their hosts. But the 0157 strain is an exception and its symptoms range from mild diarrhoea to abdominal cramps and kidney failure.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn