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Health bosses issue advice to pregnant women during lambing season

[Tuesday 23 January 2007]
swaledale sheep with lambs
Advice issued for pregnant women during
lambing season

WITH winter taking hold for the first time spring may seem a way off, yet farmers across the Yorkshire Dales are preparing for lambing time and once again health bosses are warning of the potential danger posed to pregnant women.

The Department of Health, Rural Affairs Department Defra and the Health and Safety Executive are advising that pregnant women should avoid close contact with sheep during the lambing season.

Pregnant women who come into very close contact with sheep during lambing face a minimal risk to their own health and that of their unborn child, from infections that can occur in some ewes. These include chlamydiosis (enzootic abortion of ewes - EAE), toxoplasmosis and listeriosis, which are common causes of abortion in sheep.

Although the number of reports of these infections and human miscarriages resulting from contact with sheep is extremely small, the government believes it is important that pregnant women are aware of the potential risks associated with close contact with sheep during the lambing season.

Farmers are being reminded of their responsibility under Health and Safety regulations to minimise the risks to pregnant women, including members of their family, the public and professional staff visiting their farms.

To avoid the possible risk of infection, pregnant women are advised that they should:

  • not help to lamb or milk ewes
  • avoid contact with aborted or new-born lambs or with the afterbirth avoid handling clothing, boots etc. which have come into contact with ewes or lambs

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