HEALTH chiefs have issued advice to the public to avoid the risk of contracting E. coli after a three-year-old Stourbridge girl was struck down with a potentially deadly strain of the infection.

Little Harriet Homer suffered kidney failure after contracting E. coli O157 during the school summer holiday and her parents Dave and Laura were left fearing the worst.

But the plucky tot from Norton pulled through after undergoing dialysis at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and her family told the News this week that she has been recovering well since being discharged.

The family believed the youngster may have picked up the infection after visiting a petting farm but Public Health England chiefs have stressed they have found nothing to link the incidence of E.coli with locations visited by the family.

Meanwhile – Public Health England has issued a series of guidelines to help people avoid the risk of contracting E. coli, which can be caught by eating contaminated food or by direct contact with animals with the bacteria.

While enjoying the Countryside

• Wash hands after going to the toilet or touching animals and before preparing food or eating.

• Keep hot food hot and cold food cold – don’t leave them standing around.

• Only drink safe and properly treated water. If unsure use boiled or bottled water.

Cooking on the barbecue

• Thaw meat and poultry fully before cooking and cook through at a high temperature.

• Keep raw foods separate from ready to eat foods and wash hands after touching raw meat.

• Never leave food lying around in the heat - keep it in the fridge.

During and after farm visits:

• Do not eat or drink or put your fingers in your mouth while near animals or before washing your hands.

• Ensure small children are supervised when washing hands with hot water, soap and paper towels – there should be hand washing facilities on site.

• Clean shoes and pushchair wheels before leaving the farm and before entering the car and home.

Lambing Season:

Pregnant women should:

• Not help ewes to lamb, or to provide assistance with a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding.

• Avoid contact with aborted or new-born lambs, calves or kids or with the afterbirth, birthing fluids or materials (eg bedding) contaminated by such birth products.

• Avoid handling (including washing) clothing, boots or any materials that may have come into contact with animals that have recently given birth, their young or afterbirths. Potentially contaminated clothing will be safe to handle after being washed on a hot cycle.