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Petting Farm Accepts Liability in E. coli Outbreak

A petting farm in Surrey, England, will not contest claims for damages involving an outbreak in which 93 people became infected with E. coli, the BBC reported Tuesday.


Among those sickened were 76 children younger than 10 who became ill after visiting Godstone Farm near Redhill, Surrey in August 2009.  Seventeen children suffered a complication, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and may someday require kidney transplants.

Lawyers with the firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, which has been representing 17 families and 27 children, said Godstone Farm is no longer disputing liability in what was the largest outbreak in the UK linked to a so-called open farm–a farm geared to parents and children where the animals can be touched and fed.


An independent inquiry into the outbreak, led by George Griffin, professor of infectious diseases and medicine at the Universiy of London, faulted the farm for how it handled the incident and for underestimating the risks associated with E. coli O157.  Godstone Farm remained open for about four weeks after the first illness was reported.

The Griffin reported, released last June, concluded that public safety had been “neglected” as better procedures at the farm could have stopped the outbreak, while quicker action by health authorities could have limited it.  The report made several recommendations to prevent similar situations.

Twins Aaron and Todd Furnell, from Paddock Wood, were among those who suffered acute kidney failure after contracting E. coli.  One of the boys needed a feeding tube for liquids for several months.

After the settlement was announced, their mother said she could take comfort that the twins and other children who were infected with E. coli “will have the financial support they need to deal with their current health problems and any that arise later in their lives.”

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