Preventing Infections from Animals

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

American officials have released a plan to reduce the risk of farm animals infecting people with disease. The United States Department of Agriculture and two other organizations developed the plan. They are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

Officials say recent reports of harmful bacteria linked to farm visits showed the need to develop the plan. Last year, fifty-six Americans in two states became sick with the bacteria. Nineteen of them were admitted to hospitals.

The bacteria are called E. coli. People affected by E. coli bacteria often suffer from uncontrolled expulsion of body wastes. They may lose blood or suffer kidney failure. The effects sometimes can cause death, especially among children, very old people and people with weakened defenses against disease.

Many children love to visit farm animals. The director of the Centers for Disease Control says young visitors may be putting themselves at risk of getting a life-threatening infection, such as E. coli.He says supervisors of these areas and parents of children who visit them should be informed of the risks.

The new plan says anyone organizing visits to farm animals should inform people about the problem. It says organizers also should offer ways to prevent the spread of infection from animals to people.

Officials say farm animals should not be permitted at eating places or areas for young children. They say places where people visit farm animals should have a separate area where animals are not permitted.The officials say people should be permitted to touch animals only under close supervision.

The plan says both the animal-free area and the meeting area should have hand-washing stations. People should wash their hands immediately after visiting the animals.

American officials say some activities should not be permitted during visits to farm animals. They include eating and drinking, smoking cigarettes and carrying playthings.

The officials say most people become infected with E. coli by swallowing food or liquids mixed with animal waste. They note that touching animals or their surroundings can also lead to infection.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English