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E.coli is a bacterium, many strains (or types) of which live harmlessly in the guts of humans and animals. Strains such as E.coli 0157 produce toxins or poisons, which can cause illness in humans. E.coli is highly infectious and can present a serious health hazard. Cattle, sheep, deer and goats excrete the bacteria. 4E.coli 0157 can persist in the soil for up to 150 days and in cattle faeces for up to 90 days.


The risk of infection comes mainly from contact with animals or their faeces e.g. when eating or drinking when camping or picnicking without washing your hands. Even tiny amounts of E.coli can pose a severe risk, particularly for young children and elderly people.

Another source of infection is drinking from streams that may have been contaminated with animal faeces, without first treating the water.

It is highly likely that the water supply on farms etc. can be contaminated.


When planning to rally on farmland which has been used for grazing or stick holding of animals, request that:

1. Farm animals are kept off the fields for three weeks prior to and during the event

2. All visible dung/faeces are removed, preferably at the beginning of the three week period.

3. The grass is mown and kept short and clippings are removed before the fields are used for recreation.

NB - these are part of the advice given to farmers by the HSE.

Check if the water supply is provided from either a water company or a borehole. If it is from a borehole, ask to see the result of the test or the local authority certificate declaring it safe to use.

Farmers have a duty to carry out a COSHH assessment re E.coli, among other things. Why not ask for a copy?


1. Do not drink from rivers or streams.

2. Ensure that animals have not been in contact with the water taps e.g. taps for water troughs.

3. Avoid contact with animals wherever possible.

4. Avoid walking through areas contaminated with faeces or slurry liquid wherever possible.

5. Keep out of areas not allocated to the Rally. 

6. Wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking etc.

7. Clean off clothing, footwear or any items carried, which may have been in contact with the ground.

Following these simple precautions will not only reduce the risk from E.coli, but also of other diseases that can be transmitted to people from animals. Should the landowner refuse to clear animals from the field/site prior to the event, the Rally organisers must take a view as to whether the Rally should proceed at that venue. If so, all the participants must be made aware of the need to comply with the simple measures listed under ‘CONTROLLING THE RISK’ above.

Health & Safety: About
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