Surrey adventure farm park forced to close after E.coli outbreak infects three children

An adventure park has temporarily closed its doors following an outbreak of E.coli at the start of the school holidays.

Hobbledown Adventure Farm Park and Zoo in Epsom, Surrey, has been shut since 27 July after three children were taken ill with the bacterial infection following their visit to the attraction.

Symptoms of the infection include stomach cramps, mild to bloody diarrhoea, and vomiting, with some suffering from a high fever too.

The closure comes at a popular time for the attraction.

The park has no set date for reopening, but is “hoping [it will be] as soon as possible”.

Hobbledown has contacted everyone who has visited since 12 July to alert them to the symptoms.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are currently examining the cases of STEC (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli) and are testing at the site, alongside environmental health officers from the local council.

Trish Mannes, regional deputy director for UKHSA South East, said: “We are investigating potential sources of these infections and precautionary public health measures are being put in place to help prevent further cases.”

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In most cases, the symptoms of STEC infection go within a few days, but UKHSA said in rare instances serious complications can occur, particularly in children, although anyone of any age can be affected.

Ms Mannes added that the best way to prevent the illness from spreading is to follow proper hygiene measures like “washing hands thoroughly, particularly after using the toilet, handling raw meat, before meals and after contact with animals”.

Alcohol gel, prominently used when COVID was rife, will not prevent E.coli infections.

Hobbledown owner Nick de Candole said the site took “all possible precautions” so that their guests were safe.

He added that it was an “unusual” and “rare event”, stressing that visitors who showed no sign of illness had “nothing to worry about”.

Hobbledown is offering refunds and discounts to those who have booked to visit it during the closure.

The zoo’s catalogue includes a bunch of wildlife, from meerkats to camels and pigs.

Its Hounslow site in west London remains open to the public.

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