Public Health England provides advice on enjoying the countryside over the Easter holidays and avoiding infections
The Easter break is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends. Public Health England (PHE) encourages people to enjoy the countryside during springtime, especially engaging in physical activity which has a positive impact on your health and quality of life.
Nevertheless, it is important to be aware that some animals carry infections which can pose a risk to public health. PHE are therefore calling on the public to be aware that there are simple preventative measures people can take when enjoying the countryside.
We know that many families will visit farms during the spring. It is worth remembering that farm animals carry infections which can be harmful to people. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after you have had contact with animals or have spent time in a rural environment will reduce the risk of infections both at a farm and in other rural settings.
Fiona Neely, Consultant in Health Protection, for PHE South West said: “It’s important to get out and about over the Easter holidays with family. The outdoors can boost your energy, clear your head and lift your mood.
“Nevertheless, contact with farm animals carries a risk of infection because of the bugs they naturally carry. It’s very easy to touch animals or surfaces which carry these and then people, especially children, put their fingers in or near their mouths without first washing their hands adequately and they become infected.
“So it’s important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with animals, especially before eating and drinking. If you or anyone in your group is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks of visiting a farm, contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.”
Whether you are taking a brisk ten minute walk or a long hike through the countryside, spending time in your garden, or urban green spaces, PHE encourages you to be aware that the tick season is also now starting and to make sure you take precautions to avoid being bitten.
Some tick bites can result in infections such as Lyme disease, so it is important to be aware of what ticks are, where they are found, and how to remove them safely and quickly to protect you and your family from tick-borne diseases.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to prevent being bitten by ticks while out and about with your family, including walking on clearly defined paths, using insect repellent and performing regular tick checks. Ticks can be removed safely with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. After a tick bite, if you begin to feel unwell with flu-like symptoms or develop a spreading circular red rash, seek advice from your local GP or NHS 111.