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Stay way from sheep, pregnant women warned

By Linda Stewart

Published 03/02/2012

Pregnant women in Northern Ireland have been urged to avoid contact with sheep and their young during lambing season.

Women may risk their own health and that of their unborn child from infections that can occur in some ewes, said health and agricultural bodies.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, said: “Although reports of these infections are extremely rare, it is important that pregnant women are aware of the potential risks.

“It is also important to note that these risks are not only confined to the spring, nor are the risks only associated with sheep. Indeed, cows and goats that have recently given birth can also carry similar infections.”

Pregnant women are also advised to avoid contact with afterbirth, birthing fluids or any materials contaminated by birth products and to ensure partners attending such births take appropriate hygiene precautions.

Pregnant women should seek medical advice if they have a fever or flu-like symptoms, or if they feel they may have acquired infection from a farm environment.

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