HEALTH chiefs have launched an urgent investigation after cases of the E.coli bug were discovered at a farm popular with Wiganers and there are now fears it may spread into the borough.
The bacterium - which causes bloody diarrhoea and can be fatal in some cases - was discovered after several people were taken ill having visited Huntley’s Country Farm Store, near Salmesbury in South Ribble.
Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E. coli) is a type of bacteria that can be found in the intestines of many animals. Health chiefs now fear it could spread if people aren’t vigilant.
Dr Ken Lamden, consultant in health protection from the North West regional PHE Centre said: “Investigations are still on going and all public health measures have been put in place.
“Symptoms of E.coli include bloody diarrhoea, which can be serious, or milder forms of the infection which are usually self-limiting and clear within seven days.
“It is believed the outbreak began before Easter. Anyone who visited the lambing event between March 29 and April 24 and who is unwell with diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea or passing less urine than usual should seek medical advice or contact NHS 111.
“The best protection against E.coli and most infections is thorough hand-washing. This is particularly important after contact with animals, after going to the toilet, after handling raw meat products and always before eating.
“This incident is an important reminder for parents to follow strict hand washing with their families when visiting petting farms.
“Ahead of the May bank holiday weekend, we urge families to enjoy their farm visits safely by ensuring good hand hygiene after touching farm animals or their surroundings.
“Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness associated with contact with farm animals, peak in the spring and summer as this coincides with schools holidays when visits to petting farms tend to be more popular. We wouldn’t wish to discourage farm visits, but people need to be careful.”