Farm Worker Health and Safety

People who live on farms with livestock or work in a capacity that brings them in contact with livestock or livestock manure should be aware that even normal healthy farm animals (cattle, goats, sheep, pigs) can pass bacteria and parasites in their manure that can make people sick with diarrhea.

Children, pregnant women, the elderly and any person with an immune compromising health condition can be at an increased risk to acquire the bacterial infection.

Even people who do not have direct contact with livestock or manure have become infected when other people in their home inadvertently carried the organisms into the home or vehicle on their hands, clothes or shoes.

The most common organisms that can be passed from livestock manure to people include: Salmonella, Crypotsporidium, Campylobacter, E. coli and Giardia.

Cow milking facility


Tips for people who live on a farm or work with livestock:

Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after you are done touching or working with livestock, handling equipment used on animals, or coming into contact with anything in the area where animals are present.

  • This is especially important to do before preparing or consuming food or drink for yourself or others.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

Use separate shoes, work gloves, and clothing when working with livestock.

  • Keep these items outside of your home, or remove or change immediately when arriving home, to prevent contamination of the home environment.
  • Change or remove soiled clothing and boots before getting into vehicles.
  • Wash hands after taking off any clothes and shoes you wore while working with livestock.

 

Resources:

Staying Healthy While Working on a Farm P-01711 (PDF, 427 KB)

Supervise small children during any animal encounter and discourage behaviors that can increase their risk of illness.

  • Young children and immune-compromised persons should avoid direct contact with calves, especially those with diarrhea (scours).
  • Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items in livestock areas.


Do not eat or drink in the areas where livestock are present.

Do not drink unpasteurized (raw) milk.

Work with your veterinarian to keep your livestock healthy.

If you do become ill with diarrhea lasting more than a few days or develop a high fever, notify your health care provider and tell them that you work with livestock.

Last Revised: December 16, 2016