PUBLIC Health Wales (PHW) has issued a warning in Wales after a number of people are thought to have contracted a parasite linked to farms.

PHW says it is reminding people who visit farm attractions of the importance of washing their hands after contact with animals. 

That is because, since April, PHW and Local Authority Environmental Health Officers say they have investigated several cases of diarrhoea linked to a microscopic parasite called Cryptosporidium - 'Crypto', for short.

According to PHW, several of the recent Crypto cases have visited open farms just before becoming ill.

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Cryptosporidium causes diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain, typically within five to seven days of infection but symptoms can last for around two weeks.

The recent cases have mainly been reported in young children but some adults are also thought to have contracted the parasite.

Crypto can be caught from sheep, cows and goats but especially their offspring, with lambs, goat kids and calves said to be more frequent carriers of the parasite.

This can happen even if the animals look healthy and can also be passed to humans through contact with infected faeces and other body fluids. You can also catch the parasite from touching surfaces such as animal bedding and fencing.

Rhyl Journal:

PIC: Be aware of the 'Crypto' virus currently doing the rounds when visiting a farm environment.

Dr Robert Smith from the Public Health Wales Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre said: "Animal petting and lambing events are popular with families and they are a great way to see more of the countryside and experience working life on a farm.

"However, it is important that everyone follows good hand hygiene advice to limit the transmission and spread of infectious diseases. Good hand washing after coming into contact with farm animals, their bedding or dirty equipment or clothing is really important in preventing infection.

"Although the number of people seriously affected by contact with farm animals is low, it is important that everyone, especially parents of younger children and pregnant women, are aware of the potential risks. Pregnant women or those with an underlying health condition including immunosuppression should avoid animal contact.

“People are encouraged to contact their GP if they experience diarrhoea, especially bloody diarrhoea, watery diarrhoea, fever or flu-like symptoms and explain they have been in contact with a farm or with animals. GPs are encouraged to submit faecal specimens from patients who may have had animal contact and to indicate this on the request form.”