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Advice for West Midlands families on staying safe and avoiding infections over the Easter Holiday

The Easter break is a great time to get together with family and friends, and enjoy outdoor activities, but the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is reminding people in the West Midlands to follow a few basic steps to stay safe and have a healthy holiday.Dr Naveed Syed, UKHSA West Midlands Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, said: “During spring, especially over holiday periods, there is generally an increase in gastro-intestinal infections which are often associated with a range of activities such as barbeques and picnics, where food has been poorly stored or cooked; through to farm or park visits, where infections can be picked up by handling or stroking animals. Good hand hygiene for all and supervised hand hygiene for small children is essential to minimise the risk of developing a stomach bug. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially before eating or drinking and after going to the toilet, is essential to help prevent the spread of any infection. “Common infections are caused by the germs cryptosporidium and campylobacter, while salmonella and E. coli O157 can lead to potentially serious illness. Symptoms vary from a mild upset tummy to more serious diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. In a small number of cases, some infections can result in hospitalisation or even death – with young children, pregnant women, older people and those who have reduced immunity at increased vulnerability from severe effects of stomach bugs. That’s why good hand hygiene, correct food storage, cleaning of food preparation areas and ensuring there is no cross contamination from raw and cooked foods is vital.” Now we are living with Covid, there are also other things to consider when meeting up with loved ones or visiting attractions. Dr Syed added: “Even though restrictions have been relaxed, it’s still important to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you are feeling unwell and have any symptoms that might be coronavirus, then it’s best not to mix outside your household or visit attractions and stay at home until you’re feeling better. Also, make sure you and your family are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, and consider wearing a face covering if you are in an enclosed public area with lots of people. Wash hands regularly, and try to carry some hand sanitiser, to use when you are out and about.” UKHSA advice to stay well this spring and summer includes: While enjoying the outdoors · wash your hands after going to the toilet or touching animals and before preparing food or eating and drinking · keep hot food hot and cold food cold – don’t leave them standing around · only drink safe and properly treated water. If you’re not sure use boiled or bottled water. Cooking on the barbecue · thaw meat and poultry fully before cooking and cook through at a high temperature · keep raw foods separate from ready to eat foods and wash your hands after touching raw meat · never leave food lying around in the heat – keep it in the fridge During and after farm visits · do not eat or drink or put your fingers in your mouth while you are near animals or before you have washed your hands. · ensure small children are supervised when washing their hands with hot water, soap and paper towels – there should be hand washing facilities on site. · clean your shoes and pushchair wheels before leaving the farm and before you enter your car and home. Lambing season Pregnant women should: · not help ewes to lamb, or to provide assistance with a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding · avoid contact with aborted or new-born lambs, calves or kids or with the afterbirth, birthing fluids or materials (eg bedding) contaminated by such birth products · avoid handling (including washing) clothing, boots or any materials that may have come into contact with animals that have recently given birth, their young or afterbirths. Potentially contaminated clothing will be safe to handle after being washed on a hot cycle


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