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School Girl Hospitalised After Contracting E-Coli Infection

Expert Lawyers Issue Proceedings Against Petting Farm


The father of an 11-year-old girl who suffered kidney damage after contracting E-coli following a school trip to a petting farm has spoken about his daughter’s ‘horrific’ ordeal for the first time.

Megan Oldfield, from Pontefract, in West Yorkshire, was left dependent on dialysis for two weeks after visiting Cruckley Animal Farm in East Yorkshire in June 2011 where children were allowed to pet and feed the animals.

With Megan at risk of ongoing health problems and potentially needing a kidney transplant in the future, her dad, James, instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of his daughter’s illness. 

Lawyers at the firm have received details of a Health Protection Agency (HPA) report into Cruckley Animal Farm which was commissioned following the HPA being notified of ‘six cases (five primary and one secondary) of E-coli 0157 with possible links to Cruckley Animal Farm between 7th and 18th July 2011’

The Health Protection Agency report, dated July 2011 found:

  • Hand wash facilities provided were deemed insufficient for the volume of visitors;
  • Location of hand wash facilities also considered not to be adequate, especially in regard to the covered picnic area, which was located too far from hand wash facilities;
  • As a result, it was considered unlikely that the visiting public washed their hands after interaction with animals and before eating;
  • There was a lack of explicit information about the risk of contracting an infection from animals

The HPA report stated: ‘Two improvement notices were issued which required (a) improved segregation of visitors from animals and increased number of hand washing facilities with hot and cold running water, (b) improved provision of information to visitors.’

The report confirmed that there was strong evidence that the farm was the source of the infection as, ‘.it was the single common link identified in all six cases’.

The farm closed permanently later in 2011 and the owners of Cruckley Animal Farm have denied liability.

Expert Opinion
“E-coli is a very serious infection, which can have a debilitating long term impact for anyone who contracts it.

“Unfortunately Megan is now at an increased risk of developing long term kidney problems and it is expected she will show a decline in kidney function in adolescence.

“Cruckley Animal Farm has denied liability and as such our client has been left with no other option than to issue court proceedings.”
Amandeep Samra, Associate

The HPA concluded: “A lack of explicit information about the risk of infection from animals was also noticed, and this was of concern due to the lack of adequate hand washing facilities in eating areas.”

Megan began suffering symptoms of malaise and fatigue, which was followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pains and fever one week after her school trip to the farm. She attended Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield where tests indicated kidney and blood infections.

She was then rushed to Leeds General Infirmary where E-coli was diagnosed and she began dialysis to help her body fight the infection.

This went on for two weeks meaning Megan missed two weeks off school and she continues to need regular checks to test kidney function levels and ensure further damage is not developing.

Dad James, 34, a gas engineer, said: “Seeing my little girl fight for her life because she contracted an infection that might have been prevented was very hard to witness and something I will never forget.

“She went from perfectly healthy to being hooked up to a life saving dialysis machine in a matter of days and nothing could have prepared us for the horrific battle she would have to face.

“Whilst Megan has made a fantastic recovery, the fact remains that her kidneys have been damaged and she will potentially have further problems as a result in the future to include additional problems during pregnancy.

“We just don’t know what the future holds for her which is difficult to come to terms with. I hope that by speaking out it raises awareness about the effects of contracting E-coli infection.”

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