Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009

Farm opens after E. coli outbreak

Godstone Farm's assistant manager Lee Waters said it was safe for people to visit the attraction

A petting farm at the centre of an outbreak of E. coli in Surrey has partially reopened.

Godstone Farm closed in September after cases of the bug came to light. At the height of the outbreak, 93 people had the infection.

Tandridge District Council said areas of the farm being reopened from Monday had been cleaned and disinfected and had tested negative for E. coli.

Halloween events are being held at the farm this week, its website said.

'Cleaned and disinfected'

Tandridge council said it had assured the Health Protection Agency that people would have no contact with any animals.

It said: "Those areas of the site which will be open to the public, including the play areas, have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and have since been tested and been negative for E. coli.

"The council's environmental health officers have also said they are satisfied with the signage and hand washing facilities.

"In light of these assurances the HPA considers any risks in those areas of the farm that are reopening to the public to have been reduced to levels comparable to those generally found in the countryside in the vicinity of farms."

Godstone Farm
The E. coli bug was present in animal droppings at the farm

A statement from Godstone Farm said: "For the time being we are not allowing visitors to come into contact with any of our animals. The HPA are being very thorough in their search for the cause of the outbreak, but these things do take time."

It said: "Meanwhile, the children who were affected are still on our minds and we very much hope that every one of them is well on the way to recovery."

Last week, a two-year-old boy from Kent who contracted the bug left hospital after weeks of treatment.

Legal bid

Aaron Furnell, from Paddock Wood, spent six weeks in St Thomas's Hospital, in London, with acute kidney failure.

His twin brother Todd also contracted E. coli after a trip to Godstone Farm and was discharged earlier this month.

The twins' mother Tracy Mock said: "I was under the impression the farm was going to stay closed until they had finished their investigations.

"I was totally shocked to hear it had opened again. I certainly wouldn't take my kids there. It's the last place I'd take them."

Twins Todd [left] and Aaron [right] have acute kidney failure
Twins Todd [left] and Aaron Furnell both suffered acute kidney failure

She added that it could take up to a year to establish if either of her twins had suffered long-term kidney damage.

"The farm owners said they hope the sick children have a speedy recovery, but it won't be," she said.

She is part of a group of parents who are considering taking legal action.

Four other farms closed or partly closed following the outbreak at Godstone Farm in August, including its sister farm, Horton Park in Epsom, Surrey.

An investigation into the outbreak, led by George Griffin, professor of infectious diseases at St George's, University of London, is under way.

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