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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
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

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines