Public Health England (PHE) East Midlands is reminding people across the region to take care of their health this Easter.
As spring approaches PHE tends to see an increase in gastro-intestinal infections during holiday periods.
These are often associated with activities such as barbecues and picnics where food has been poorly stored or cooked, through to farm or park visits, where infections can be picked up by handling or stroking animals.
Good hand hygiene for all and supervised hand hygiene for small children is essential to minimise the risk.
Common infections are caused by the germs cryptosporidium and campylobacter, while salmonella and E.coli O157 can lead to potentially serious illness.
The symptoms of these infections vary from a mild upset tummy to more serious diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.
Dr Philip Monk, consultant in communicable disease control at PHE East Midlands, said, ”Diarrhoea and vomiting can be a particular problem with consuming undercooked, poorly prepared or stored food from barbecues and picnics, whilst putting dirty fingers in the mouth after contact with animals or animal faeces also raises the risk of infections.
“People should enjoy the bank holiday break but by following a few simple steps they can help make sure they stay well whilst doing so.”
PHE advice includes:
• Wash your hands with soap and water after going to the toilet or touching animals and before preparing food or eating.
• Keep hot food hot and cold food cold – don’t leave food standing around.
• Only drink safe and properly treated water. If you’re not sure use boiled or bottled water.
• Thaw meat and poultry fully before cooking and cook through at a high temperature.
• Keep raw foods separate from ready to eat foods and wash your hands after touching raw meat.
• Never leave food lying around in the heat - keep it in the fridge.
• Do not eat or drink or put your fingers in your mouth while you are near animals or before you have washed your hands.
• Ensure small children are supervised when washing their hands with hot water, soap and paper towels – there should be hand washing facilities on site.
• Clean your shoes and pushchair wheels before leaving the farm and before you enter your car and home.
During lambing season, pregnant women should
• Not help ewes to lamb, or provide assistance with a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding.
• Avoid contact with aborted or new-born lambs, calves or kids or with the afterbirth, birthing fluids or materials (eg bedding) contaminated by such birth products.
• Avoid handling (including washing) clothing, boots or any materials that may have come into contact with animals that have recently given birth, their young or afterbirths. Potentially contaminated clothing will be safe to handle after being washed on a hot cycle.