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With Easter just around the corner and spring ready to launch off its coils, the government has issued a reminder for pregnant women to steer clear of farm animals.

The warning comes over birthing farm animals that can present an infection risk to expectant mothers.

Though the number of humans affected by contact with animals is small, caution is still being advised, with personal protective equipment (PPE) essential for any pregnant women working on a farm.

This risk is most present from sheep, particularly at this time of the year through lambing season. However, all animals, including cattle and goats, can present a risk if they have recently calved or kidded.

As well as wearing PPE, pregnant women working around animals should: not assist lambing ewes, calving cows or kidding nanny goats; not come into contact with newborns, aborted foetuses, afterbirth (or any birthing fluids), or materials such as bedding and aids; and not handle or wash clothing or materials used in birthing or contacting birthing animals.

It is also important for pregnant women to ensure that colleagues, partners and any persons contacting birthing animals have taken the right health, hygiene and safety precautions. This includes wearing PPE themselves, and thoroughly washing off potential contaminations.

In the event that any contact occurs, the government has said it is essential pregnant women take medical advice immediately. This is also the case should a pregnant woman start to experience flu-like symptoms or suffer a fever.

Farmers have also been reminded of their ultimate responsibility to control and reduce all risks to workers.

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