Health Advice When Visiting Farms

Visiting farms or animal experiences can be fun for everyone, but there are some health risks to be aware of.

Farm animals can carry germs that can be harmful to people. Germs can spread from touching animals, their poo, or touching surfaces that could have germs on them. Germs can then get into your mouth from your hands and make you sick. Infections from germs can be serious and can spread to others, particularly in young children, pregnant people, and those with additional health issues.

What to do when visiting a farm or you are in contact with farm animals

There are 6 key steps that will lower the risk of infection:

  1. Handwashing is one of the most important ways of keeping you and your child healthy. Wash hands well with soap and running water for 20 seconds. Wash hands straight away after coming into contact with animals, animal poo or where they have been. It's important to wash hands before eating or handling food. You may need to help children to make sure they have done this properly.
  2. Avoid putting your face near animals or kissing animals.
  3. Avoid touching your face with your hands. This is very important if your hands have not been washed.
  4.  Make sure to clean footwear that has been worn in farm areas. It is also important to clean the wheels of pushchairs and wheelchairs, or cover the wheels with a plastic bag before putting in your car boot. Wash your hands well after doing this.
  5. Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or vaping in the farm or animal area. This could transfer germs from hands to the mouth. Instead eat and drink in a dedicated picnic spot or cafe after washing your hands.
  6. Cover cuts or grazes with waterproof plasters or dressings when visiting the farm.

Please see the video below on hand washing.

Hand sanitiser and wipes:

When visiting a farm or farm animals, soap and water is the way to stop the germs. Hand sanitiser may not work on all the germs that farm animals may have. Hand gel, hand sanitiser or wipes can be useful when out and about, but they are not a substitute for soap and water.

Advice for if you are pregnant:

If you are pregnant or may be pregnant, there is a risk that some of the infections from farm animals can put your baby at risk. Other than following the steps above, it is important to stay away from animals that have recently given birth and the newborn animals. This includes avoiding milking the animals. If anyone in the household has been in contact with baby lambs, goats or calves or the animals mothers, make sure they have followed the key steps above. Avoid touching clothes or footwear that may have been near the animals and wash the clothing separately on as hot a wash as possible.  

 What should you do if you feel unwell?

If you or anyone in your group who visited farm animals feels sick with vomiting, diarrhoea, or a high temperature within 2 weeks of visiting the farm, contact your doctor or call 111 right away. Tell them about the farm visit because it might be related to your symptoms. If someone has bloody diarrhoea or seems very unwell, seek emergency medical help immediately.

If anyone has diarrhoea or vomiting, they should not go to work, school, or nursery until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. This is to prevent spreading any infection to others.

To avoid spreading infection to those you live with:

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands regularly.
  • The sick person should not prepare food for others.
  • Clean surfaces that people touch often.
  • Avoid sharing towels.
  • Clean the bathroom after each use, including the toilet seat, flush and taps.

The most common germs from farm animals:


This is a bacteria that can be passed to humans from infected farm animals. This is by coming into contact with the animals, their poo or infected surfaces. Symptoms it can cause are diarrhoea, stomach pain, fever and vomiting.These usually last for up to a week and most improve without treatment other than staying hydrated. During this time you can pass the infection onto others. It is important to follow the advice above on how to avoid spreading infection.


This is a bacteria that can be carried by cows. Only a very small number of bacteria can cause infection. The symptoms it can cause are diarrhoea, stomach pain and fever. Some people may have no symptoms, some people may have more severe symptoms. In a small number of people it can cause life threatening issues with the kidneys or blood.  Follow the key steps above to avoid getting this infection from farm visits.


This is a tiny parasite that can be found in infected animals’ poo or on contaminated surfaces such as the ground, fences or people’s shoes. It can also be found in water that animal poo has gone into. It usually causes watery diarrhoea and stomach pains that last for around 2 weeks. It is very infectious so can easily be passed to others even after your symptoms have got better. If someone is having symptoms make sure they don't share towels, wash bedding on a hot wash, and avoid cooking for others. It is also important to avoid swimming whilst the person has symptoms and for 2 weeks after symptoms have gone. Most people recover without the need for treatment. It can be serious in people with lowered immune systems.

If you think you or your family member has one of these infections, see your GP as soon as possible or call NHS 111.