Zoonotic Infections Associated with Keeping Cattle and Sheep in the UK

Moredun-logoSummary written by Moredun Research Institute scientists

Taken from Moredun Foundation Newsheet Volume 3 No. 14 & 15 (2002)




Everyone working with livestock should follow the principles of good occupational hygiene to protect against the risk of contracting a zoonotic infection. Consider the following precautions;

  • Cover existing cuts and abrasions on exposed skin with waterproof dressings before beginning work - some organisms enter the body through open wounds.
  • Avoid or minimise using equipment or tools likely to cause cuts, abrasions or puncture wounds.
  • Dispose of needles into a sharps box or other strong container which must be labelled and disposed of safely.
  • Avoid mouth to mouth resuscitation of new born animals.
  • Have proper hand washing facilities and clean towels available in the animal accommodation area.
  • Wash hands and exposed skin before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Only drink clean water out of clean containers.
  • Wear personal protective equipment whenever helping animals to give birth, handling the products of birth (eg placenta), examining mouths or during rectal examinations. Use face protection for the eyes and mouth if there is a risk of splashing from urine, faeces or placental fluids.
  • Thoroughly wash all personal protective equipment after use.

Finally, ensure that any visitors to your farm who may come into contact with your livestock follow the same precautions.

If you think you have a zoonotic disease you should consult your doctor quickly. It will help your doctor to know if you work in agriculture or have recently come into contact with farm livestock.


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