FARM families have been urged to be vigilant about taking basic infection control precautions following a huge upsurge in a potentially lethal form of Ecoli.
The number of reported cases of the bug verotoxigenic E coli has risen to 547 this year compared to 251 for the same period last year.
Most of the cases occurred in rural areas and almost half affected children under five years of age.
Although most ecoli bacteria is harmless, the more dangerous forms can lead to bloody diarrhoea , kidney failure and death in some cases.
The Food Safety Authority said farmers should ensure they have robust hygiene practices in place to reduce the risk of this infection.
Chief executive Prof Alan O’ Reilly advised:”Simple measures can go a long way towards reducing this risk such as washing hands after working or playing on the farm, ensuring the water supply is safe and not drinking unpasteurised milk.”
He said farms should use organic fertilisers safely, keep animals clean and not send children who are suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting to their creche or childminder unti the symptoms have gone for 48 hours.
The watchdog has produced a free leaflet ‘E coli- How to Reduce the Risk from your Farm’. It is available on www.fsai.ie or through the advice line 1890 3366 77.