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E. coli outbreak ‘subsiding’

Katie Coyne03/08/2016 - 11:26

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E. coli under a microscope
E. coli under a microscope

The most recent E-Coli outbreak linked to imported mixed salad leaves appears to be subsiding as no new cases related to the 0157 strain have been reported in the past week.

The source of the outbreak has still not yet been identified but Public Health England has said that there is still a strong association with eating mixed salad leaves. But the investigation is still focusing on wholesale and not retail.

There have been 161 of cases in total with 154 in England, 6 in Wales, and 1 in Scotland. In the last PHE update nine new cases had been confirmed. More than 60 cases have received hospital care and two with E. coli 0157 infections have died.

The outbreak is characterized by multiple small clusters linked to catering and residential care premises. Seventy-five per cent of cases were female with 91 per cent being over the age of 18. The onset date was 31 May.

Dr Isabel Oliver, director of PHE’s field epidemiology service, said: ‘We are very pleased to see there have been no further cases reported over the past week, which suggests we are over the worst for this outbreak.

‘As previously, we strongly advise maintaining good hand and food hygiene practices at all times, particularly for anyone affected in order to stop the infection passing to others.

‘It remains vital to wash hands thoroughly using soap and water after using the toilet, before and after handling food and after contact with any animals and pets, including farm animals. Small children should also be supervised when washing their hands.’

Further advice being issued by PHE is that loose soil is removed before storing vegetables and to wash all vegetables including salads, thoroughly, that are to be eaten raw. The only exception being pre prepared produce specifically labelled ‘ready to eat’. While these precautions will reduce the risk of infection it will not eliminate it entirely.

In a completely separate incident Health Protection Scotland in investigating 16 cases of E. coli 0157 linked to blue cheese made from unpasteurized milk.

Food Standards Scotland confirmed it was working with South Lanarkshire Council and Errington Cheese to investigate. Two of the 16 patients are being treated in hospital.

All pack sizes with batch number C22 best before date 19 to 26 July and D14 best before 7 to 15 August are affected.

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