Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Farmers unaware of disease risk to themselves from healthy animals

Unpasteurised or raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as campylobacter, listeria, brucella, salmonella or E coli. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Unpasteurised or raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as campylobacter, listeria, brucella, salmonella or E coli. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Unpasteurised or raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as campylobacter, listeria, brucella, salmonella or E coli. Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Most farmers are unaware that healthy animals may be a source of infection for themselves or family members.

More than half surveyed also did not realise that disease can be contracted from sick poultry or pets, according to a disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

It said that, on the other hand, farmers' knowledge of the risk to pregnant women of infection from birthing animals was high.

Younger farmers, under 45 years of age, are more likely than older groups to know what a zoonosis is - that one can catch an infection from healthy animals, from sick poultry, and from pets.

Older farmers were more likely than younger farmers to identify aborting animals as a source of infection.

One-third reported they did not wear a boiler suit or wet gear while working.

Of those who did, almost a quarter did not remove it on entering the home.

The report also pointed out a survey of farmers showed consumption of unpasteurised milk or untreated water may also put their households at risk.

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Unpasteurised or raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as campylobacter, listeria, brucella, salmonella or E coli.

Half of Irish agricultural households also get water from a private source.

"This contrasts with private well ownership in Ireland generally, which is about 10pc.

"Well water can be vulnerable to contamination, particularly if the well is not properly constructed or protected," it said.

The Environmental Protection Agency had reported that 25pc of groundwater supplies in Ireland are contaminated with faecal coliforms from animal waste, it pointed out.

The watchdog said there was a need for further education "in plain language" to increase the awareness of potential biohazards on farms, and practical measures to reduce zoonotic infection.

Irish Independent

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