Lambing farm near Banbury forced to close after visitors become ill with sickness and diarrhoea

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A popular farm near Banbury has cancelled the rest of its lambing season event after visitors and staff became ill with sickness and diarrhoea.

Hadsham Farm released a statement to its social media pages on Monday (April 8) announcing it has been forced to take action due to an outbreak of a bug.

The decision was made after several visitors and staff members at the farm became ill with similar diarrhoea symptoms.

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One visitor to the farm, which is located just outside Horley, reported that they had been diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, a parasitical disease caused by cryptosporidium. Although not a serious risk for healthy people, crypto can lead to serious illnesses for people with a weak immune system.

Hadsham Farm has been forced to close after an outbreak of a bug left visitors with diarrhoea.Hadsham Farm has been forced to close after an outbreak of a bug left visitors with diarrhoea.
Hadsham Farm has been forced to close after an outbreak of a bug left visitors with diarrhoea.

Despite there being no direct evidence the bug originated from the farm, and a negative result from a lamb stool test by Hook Norton vets, the decision was made to cancel future events in precaution.

A spokesperson for the farm said: “It seems highly likely that we are the probable source of a bug called cryptosporidium which has made a number of our visitors and staff ill with sickness and diarrhoea.

“We are obviously completely devastated here that anyone has become unwell since visiting the farm and we hope that anyone who is ill makes a speedy recovery.

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“Our spring lambing event has been running for a number of years now and we have never had an issue like this before. We pride ourselves on opening up the farm to the public and providing a lovely experience – particularly for children and their families.”

The disease is spread commonly by people putting their hands near their mouths after coming into contact with the faeces of a person or animal that is infected. Symptoms include watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, vomiting, fever and a loss of appetite and typically lasts for around two weeks but can be longer in people with weak immune systems.

Hadsham Farm will fully refund all tickets purchased for the cancelled lambing sessions, within the next five to ten days.

The farm said it took action as soon as it suspected the illness could be from their premises.

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After people started becoming ill, they said: “A Google search revealed this crypto bug (unknown to us at the time) and all the symptoms seemed to fit so we had the lamb faeces tested to be proactive, and they came back NEGATIVE in a snap test by Hook Norton vets. This was on Friday morning last week.

“Nevertheless, we informed the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that day that we suspected we might be spreading something, and they opened a case file for an unknown bug going around, possibly connected to the farm. Cherwell District Environmental Health then visited us immediately on Friday evening and having inspected, told us we were fine to stay open but (amongst a few other measures) to increase our insistence on hand washing of all staff and visitors – we have all the facilities in place, we just needed to remind everyone to use them.

“On Sunday evening, we then learned via a mums’ WhatsApp group of the first diagnosed case of crypto in a farm visitor. Not direct evidence that it came from us, but highly likely. At this point, we immediately informed the UKHSA and cancelled the following day’s event (Monday 8th). A team meeting on Monday quickly led us to the decision to close permanently for the rest of the event whether or not UKHSA or Environmental Health tell us any different.”

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