Risks For Pregnant Women During Lambing Season

With spring well on its way, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has issued a reminder to pregnant women about the risks of being in close contact with sheep during lambing season.

Those who are or think they may be expecting are advised to reduce their risk of miscarriage and infection by avoiding sheep during the season which runs from February until around the end of April.

Dr Gerry Waldron, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health Protection) at the PHA, said: "Pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may be risking their own health and that of their unborn child from infections that can be transferred from ewes.
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"The number of reports of these infections and human miscarriages resulting from contact with sheep is extremely small. However, it is important that pregnant women are aware of the potential risks associated with close contact with sheep during lambing."

To remain on the safe side, pregnant women are advised that they should:

• not help to lamb or milk ewes

• avoid contact with aborted, miscarried or new-born lambs and with any birthing fluids or materials

• avoid handling clothing, boots etc which may have came into contact with ewes or lambs

• ensure any partners or family members wash thoroughly after contact with ewes that are lambing.

These risks are not only confined to spring, nor to just sheep, according to the PHA. Cows and goats that have recently given birth can also carry similar infections.

Pregnant women are advised to seek medical attention if they experience fever or influenza-like symptoms, or are concerned they could have acquired infection from a farm environment.


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