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article imagePregnant women advised to avoid birthing animals

By Tim Sandle     Jan 18, 2016 in Health
Manchester - Pregnant women have been advised to keep clear of animals on farms that are giving birth. This is due to the risk of infection of the mother and hence her unborn child.
The primary risk is with sheep, during the lambing season, although pregnant women are also advised to keep clear of other farm animals giving birth, such as cows and goats. The new advice comes from the U.K. Department of Health. Risks, from zoonotic diseases (meaning the transfer of a viral, parasitic or bacterial infection from an animal to human), are also said to exist from animals that have recently given birth.
The advice comes on the basis of the risk to pregnant women being real, although the actual number of cases is low. The risks exist at different times of the year (sheep, for example, give birth in the spring); thus the general advice is for pregnant women to be cautious when visiting farms.
Public Health England has produced more detailed advice to help pregnant women avoid infection. This says:
Do not help ewes to lamb, or provide assistance to a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding.
Do not go close to aborted or new-born lambs, calves or kids.
Avoid contact with any afterbirth, birthing fluids or materials (such as bedding) contaminated by such birth products.
Do not handle or wash clothing, boots or any materials that have come into contact with animals that have given birth. Once the clothing has been washed in very hot water, it is safe to handle.
For the children or partners of pregnant women, who have attended lambing ewes or other animals giving birth, such people must take appropriate hygiene steps (like handwashing, changing clothes etc.), before making contact with the pregnant woman.
Furthermore, if a pregnant woman experiences fever or influenza-like symptoms and has had a close association with birthing animals, she should seek medical advice.
There is also a note made about the responsibilities of farmers to warn pregnant women about the risks when attending farms, and ensuing they have drawn up risk assessments. Farmers can take further precautions by watching for the signs and symptoms of disease in relation to livestock and seek appropriate veterinary advice.
More about pregnancy risk, Farm animals, Farms, Lambs, Sheep
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