Open farms offer visitors the opportunity of seeing and coming into contact with animals which is a valuable activity that brings many benefits and pleasure to children and adults alike when permitted to do so.
Open farms have been associated in the past with a number of outbreaks of infectious disease most notably, in 2009, a large outbreak of E.coli O157 in the UK was linked to an open farm in Surrey. The EHAI.
In 2013 the EHAI (Environmental Health Association of Ireland) carried out a national study of open farms in Ireland. The main aim of this survey was to assess standards of open farms with a particular emphasis on what infection control and prevention measures were in place on the farms visited.
Following this study the Open Farms and Pet Farms in Ireland: A Practical Guide to Preventing and Controlling Infection was produced by a multi-disciplinary group set up by the EHAI. This document outlines how a risk assessment should be completed and an open farm self-assessment tool is provided to assist in this regard. The guidelines for the preventing or controlling infection outlined in Section 8 form the main body of this guidance document. It outlines many of the measures which the open farm operator, staff and visitor can do to prevent and control infection.
A copy of Open Farms and Pet Farms in Ireland: A Practical Guide to Preventing and Controlling Infection is available here.