England

Death fear of Surrey petting farm E.coli outbreak boy

Godstone Farm
Image caption More than 90 people got the 0157 strain of the bug at the farm last year

A young boy became so sick after contracting E.coli at a Surrey petting farm that he thought he as going to die, a report has revealed.

The boy, who was not named, became seriously ill after being infected at Godstone Farm, near Redhill, Surrey.

The investigation into the E.coli outbreak said another boy suffered bloody diarrhoea and violent stomach pains after visiting the farm.

Farm owner, Jackie Flaherty, expressed her sympathy to all those affected.

More than 90 people got the 0157 strain of the bug at the farm last year, 76 of whom were children.

'Still having nightmares'

The report said the first youngster was given a blood transfusion by doctors to stop him going into renal failure.

It added: "He was so sick he thought he was going to die and is still having nightmares about it. He asks a lot of questions about dying."

The inquiry said another young boy was sent home from hospital twice after contracting E.coli and told he "just had a bug".

Two days later, he was sent to the Evelina Children's Hospital in central London where he remained for six weeks.

After having dialysis for four weeks his kidney function was only at 28% when he left hospital.

The report said: "He is getting better but can't walk much. He has lost his confidence, has nightmares and is preoccupied with hospital."

'Permanently damaged'

The boy's mother, referred to as Mrs L, said the farm should have been shut down earlier.

The report said: "Mrs L feels very strongly that what happened was completely out of her control.

Image caption Godstone Farm attracts up to 2,000 visitors a day at the height of summer

"Mrs L feels (her son) suffered terrible pain, discomfort and fear, something a young child should not have to cope with.

"She feels her children were put at unnecessary risk and is angry that her youngest son has been permanently damaged."

The independent inquiry into the infection said more needed to be done to protect people visiting children's farms.

It concluded that public safety had been "neglected" as better procedures at the farm could have stopped the outbreak, while quicker action by health officials could have limited it.

The independent panel, led by University of London infection expert Professor George Griffin, said safety measures on the farm were "inadequate" as they primarily relied on visitors washing their hands.

Godstone Farm has now reopened and, following the report, Mrs Flaherty said: "The safety and welfare of visitors to the farm is always important to us."

She also said she would welcome a code of practice and new measures to improve safety and regulation.

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