Posted: Thu 27th Jun 2024

UKHSA: E. coli advice issued amid rise in cases and one death

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that two individuals in England, both with underlying medical conditions, died within 28 days of contracting Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in May. One of these deaths is likely linked to the infection, the health agency said.

UKHSA is intensifying its efforts to manage an outbreak of (STEC) O145, with confirmed cases now totalling 275 across the UK. The latest figures reveal a continued rise in cases, though the rate of reporting is declining.

According to the UKHSA, England has the highest number of cases with 182 confirmed, followed by 58 in Scotland.

Wales has seen a rise from 18 confirmed cases on 4 June to 31 as of today.

Investigations have highlighted pre-packaged sandwich products containing lettuce as the likely source of the outbreak.

A number of food manufacturers have issued recalls for some of their products as a precautionary measure.

Amy Douglas, Incident Director at UKHSA, expressed cautious optimism. She said:

“We’re pleased that fewer cases have been reported. However, we still expect to see a few more cases linked to this outbreak as further samples are referred to us for testing.”

“Symptoms of infections with STEC include severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever. While diarrhoea and vomiting can have a range of causes, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and the risk of infecting others.”

“Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using disinfectants to clean surfaces will help stop any further spread of infection. If you are unwell, you should not prepare food for others while unwell and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings.”

“Do not return to work, school, or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. If you are concerned about your symptoms, follow NHS.UK guidance on when to seek help and the steps you can take to avoid further spread to family and friends.”

Darren Whitby, Head of Incidents at the FSA, said:

“Earlier this month, we confirmed that several sandwich manufacturers had taken precautionary action to withdraw and recall various sandwiches, wraps, subs, and rolls after food chain and epidemiological links enabled us to narrow down a wide range of foods to a type of lettuce used in sandwich products as the likely cause of the outbreak.”

“This remains a complex investigation and we continue to work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers. Although we are confident in the likely source of the outbreak being linked to lettuce, work continues to confirm this and identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers, and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a recurrence.”

Wendi Shepherd, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, advised: “Anyone who has experienced bloody diarrhoea or severe stomach cramps should seek medical attention.”

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