Leeds petting farm ‘doing all it can’ to act on e-coli outbreak

Swithens Farm in Rothwell, Leeds.

Swithens Farm in Rothwell, Leeds.

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The owners of a petting farm at the centre of a parasitic disease outbreak that has left dozens ill said they are working with the local authority to investigate its cause .

Ian and Angela Broadhead, who run Swithens Farm, in Rothwell, Leeds, have reassured visitors that their “health, safety and welfare” is of “utmost importance” to them as they continue to work with public health experts.

The petting farm has been linked to 29 cases of cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by a parasite which causes sickness and diarrhoea, and two of bacterial infection E.coli 0157, which can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and can affect kidney function.

All those affected visited Swithens Farm from March onwards.

The infections can be the result of contact with animals carrying germs or parasites.

The statement comes after more than 400 YEP readers reacted to the news on social media.

The Broadhead family said: “As a small family-run business the health, safety and welfare of our visitors is of utmost importance to us all.

“Following contact from the local authority we are disappointed to hear that some of our visitors may have become ill following a visit to our farm.

“We have done and continue to work very closely with the local authority as they investigate what may have been the cause of this problem.”

Swithens Farm voluntarily closed for a period after the outbreak became apparent.

The family has thanked customers for their support and said the farm is still open as it “continues to implement all recommendations” as Public Health England (PHE) investigates.

Between January and May 2015 around 130 people were affected by outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis linked to petting farms in England.

PHE has advised all visitors to wash their hands after touching animals.

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