Petting farm parasite infects kids. It can infect cats.

Representation of a protozoan parasite infecting animals and people
Representation of a protozoan parasite infecting animals and people. The image is free to use.
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Parents are very annoyed about their kids becoming infected by an animal parasite which was transmitted to them after a trip to a children’s petting farm, Gannow Farm in Worcestershire, UK, over Easter.

Both parents and children as young as one were struck with sickness and diarrhoea after visiting the farm. Many had contracted Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite that can infect a wide range of animals including both cats and dogs. In this instance the parasite had infected lambs and cattle.

A report by The Telegraph tells us that there were “faeces everywhere” according to the parents. The farmers been closed for the rest of 2024 and is being investigated by the UK Health Security Agency.

Cuddling lambs and calves is very beneficial normally and is a great shame that this zoonotic disease transferred animals to people on these visits.

RELATED: Avian flu puts cow cuddling under threat.

The parasite causes gastrointestinal illnesses in humans and animals and it can cause serious illness.

For example, Sophie Enright, 14, from Hollywood, near Birmingham, visit the farm with her mother, Emma Cleverley, 38, on April 3 and became seriously ill with vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea by April 9. She was diagnosed with Cryptosporidium and she lost over a stone in weight. She has missed school and her mother is concerned about her exam results.

The farm said that they took the safety and welfare of the visitors very seriously and that they were working closely with governing bodies. They wished everyone well and a speedy recovery.

The report is that there were too many people at the farm. Mrs Powell was one visitor and she said that she noticed issues with the farm on arrival. She said that it was very busy that day and she believed that there were too many people for each slot with the animals. There was also not enough supervision.

She added that the “lambs looked lethargic and unwell compared to previous visits and their faeces were everywhere, including the bales of hay set out for sitting on. There were so many in those pens that day and I’m not surprised to hear we’re not alone in having fallen sick.”

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She was infected by the parasite and is one of 80 others were seeking legal advice from the law firm Irwin Mitchell to discuss the possibility of compensation.

This infection can prove fatal. A lawyer at the said law firm said that “Parasitic infections like Cryptosporidium can be very serious, particularly for the most vulnerable such as older adults or young children and in some cases can prove fatal.”

The farm refunded all bookings from April 13, 14th, 20th and 21st.

RELATED: Sporotrichosis in cats and people is rare in the UK and most common in Brazil

Sidebar: there are reports of Cryptosporidium contamination in tap water provided by South West Water. Is there a connection of some sort? The farm mentioned is no within this company’s jurisdication. Some more about this issues from Google Gemini:

There was a cryptosporidium contamination in Brixham, Devon by South West Water in May 2024. Here’s a summary of the event:

  • Dates: The contamination was detected on May 14th, 2024, and a boil water notice was issued [BBC News].
  • Affected Area: The boil water notice initially applied to the entire Brixham area. However, by May 18th, the notice was lifted for around 14,500 households in the Alston supply area [South West Water].
  • Unresolved Areas: As of May 28th, a boil water notice was still in effect for roughly 2,500 properties in Hillhead, upper Brixham, and Kingswear [Devon Live].
  • Cause: The cause of the contamination is believed to be animal faeces entering a damaged pipe [Sky News].
  • Illnesses: Dozens of people reported diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and vomiting consistent with cryptosporidiosis, an infection caused by the cryptosporidium parasite [Devon Live].

If you’re concerned about the status of the boil water notice in your area, you can check the South West Water website or contact them directly.

About domestic cats and Cryptosporidium

In cats, C. felis [the subspecies of this disease infecting cats] is most common and is transmitted between cats by the ingestion of feces from mutual grooming, shared litterboxes, ingestion of contaminated food or water, and possibly, ingestion of infected prey species. Approximately 20% of the oocysts produced in the intestine are “thin-walled” oocysts that fail to form an oocyst wall. These oocysts rupture within the intestines and when the sporozoites are released, auto infection occurs allowing for magnification of

Michael R. Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Prevalence: In the United States, Cryptosporidium spp. DNA has been amplified from 29.4% of cats with diarrhea (source: Diagnosis and Treatment of Cryptosporidium and Isospora in Cats by the above author). Among cats, C. felis is the most common species. It is transmitted between cats through:

  • Mutual grooming
  • Shared litterboxes
  • Ingestion of contaminated food or water
  • Possibly, ingestion of infected prey species.

Clinical Presentation:

  • Cryptosporidiosis usually occurs in kittens younger than 6 months of age.
  • Cats with healthy immune systems may recover quickly without showing signs of infection or may have only mild diarrhea.
  • However, this disease can be life-threatening for cats with severely compromised immune systems.


The main symptom of cryptosporidiosis is mucoid diarrhea, which may be accompanied by lethargy and/or loss of appetite.

More on this disease generally

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite that can infect a wide range of animals, including both cats and dogs. Let’s delve into the details:

  1. Cryptosporidium Species:
    • There are several species of Cryptosporidium, each with varying degrees of infectivity for animals and humans:
      • C. canis: Infects dogs and can rarely affect humans.
      • C. felis: Infects cats and can also rarely affect humans.
      • C. hominis: Found exclusively in humans.
      • C. parvum: Common in ruminants (such as cattle) and other hosts, but it does not appear to occur in dogs and cats.
  2. Transmission:
    • Cryptosporidium is transmitted among dogs and cats through various routes:
      • Mutual grooming: Cats and dogs can ingest oocysts (infectious forms) from each other during grooming.
      • Shared litter boxes: If a cat and a dog share a litter box, transmission can occur.
      • Contaminated food or water: Ingesting contaminated food or water can lead to infection.
      • Possibly infected prey species: If a cat or dog consumes infected prey, transmission may occur.
  3. Clinical Signs:
    • Cryptosporidiosis affects the gastrointestinal tract and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea in infected animals, including cats and dogs.
  4. Zoonotic Risk:
    • While rare, Cryptosporidium can infect humans. Proper hygiene and preventive measures are essential to reduce the risk of transmission between animals and people.


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