Petting farm visitors still ‘seriously ill’ after parasite infection at Easter

More than 80 people considering legal action after getting bug from contact with animals at Gannow Farm in Worcestershire

Life May 30, 2024 /idopress/

Sophie Enright,14,still has debilitating symptoms after petting lambs at the farm on 3 April

Credit: Irwin Mitchell/SWNS

Visitors to a petting farm remain seriously unwell with an animal parasite after visiting over the Easter holidays.

Parents and children fell seriously ill,and some were hospitalised,after visiting Gannow Farm in Worcestershire. More than 80 people are now considering legal action. 

Adults and children as young as one were struck down with sickness and diarrhoea after going to the attraction,which offers cuddles with lambs and calves.

Many contracted cryptosporidium – a microscopic parasite which can cause gastrointestinal illness in both humans and animals – and still remain seriously ill.

Last month,it emerged 20 visitors had contacted public health lawyers asking them to investigate their cases following their ordeal – and that number has since quadrupled.

The UK Health Security Agency and Wychavon District Council have also launched a probe into the farm near Redditch,which has remained closed since the incident.

Teen victim fears impact on exam results

One of the latest victims to come forward includes a teenager who was forced to take time off school and lost over a stone in weight.

Sophie Enright,from Hollywood,Birmingham,now fears her exam results will suffer as a consequence.

She visited the farm with her mother Emma Cleverley,38,on April 3 and was ill with diarrhoea,stomach cramps and vomiting by April 9.

As Sophie’s condition deteriorated,Emma called a GP on April 11 who said she was the fourth person he’d seen that day with the same symptoms after visiting the farm.

Sophie was prescribed anti-sickness medication and medication to ease her stomach cramps – but four days later her symptoms had not improved.

She was given a stronger dose of medication,plus nutrient shakes and co-codamol,and was diagnosed with cryptosporidium following tests.

Sophie continues to suffer from debilitating symptoms,including stomach pains and lethargy.

The illness meant Sophie had to take time off school and her head of year said her exam grades might suffer as a consequence.

‘Frightening and uncertain experience’

Emma said: “Even now I can’t believe what has happened to Sophie since the farm visit back in April. She’s like another girl after what has been a frightening and uncertain experience.

“Having visited the doctors,she just never seemed to improve and as the weight fell off her,we became really concerned.

“We thought it was just a bug that would clear up but when they said it was cryptosporidium,terrible thoughts go through your mind.

“Sophie still isn’t well and she was devastated to have missed school in the run-up to her mock exams and has suffered with her mental health as a result.

“Our focus has been on seeing Sophie make a full recovery but given all of the people who’ve been so ill,I think there are questions to answer.”

Gannow Farm has announced it will close Farm Experience for the rest of 2024

Jatinder Paul,the head of the specialist public health team at Irwin Mitchell,who is supporting the families,said: “It’s deeply concerning that over 80 people have now come forward,all with similar stories to tell of being diagnosed with cryptosporidium following their visit.

“Cryptosporidium is known to cause gastrointestinal illness and can be a serious condition for many vulnerable groups,including children and older people.

“A type of microscopic parasite,cryptosporidium can cause illness in both humans and animals alike.

“It’s vital that people take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their families from the risk of infection.

“While we welcome that the UK Health Security Agency is investigating,we’re committed to supporting our clients through what has been a terrible ordeal and securing for them the answers they deserve.

“If during the case of our investigations any issues are identified,it’s vital that lessons are learned to improve public safety.”

In a Facebook post,the farm wrote: “We at Gannow Farm take the welfare of our visitors very seriously and for that reason we have decided to close for the remainder of the 2024 Farm Experience.

“This is a decision taken by the team and not by governing bodies however we are working closely with them as always.

“We would like to wish anyone that is poorly a speedy recovery.”

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