E.Coli cases see spike in UK

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Food likely to be cause for rising E.Coli cases in UK. Credit: Getty/Dr_Microbe
Food likely to be cause for rising E.Coli cases in UK. Credit: Getty/Dr_Microbe

Related tags Foodborne disease outbreaks

An investigation has been launched by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), together with public health agencies across the UK, following a rising number of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) reports.

Officials believe this is a single outbreak of E.Coli, but due to the wide spread of cases geographically, it is likely linked to a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items.

As of 4 June, there have been 113 confirmed cases associated with this outbreak of STEC O145 in the UK. The majority have been in England (81 cases), with 61% of those impacted in this part of UK hospitalised.

Elsewhere in Wales and Scotland, there have been 18 and 13 reports, respectively. There has so far only been 1 reported case in Northern Ireland, but evidence suggests they were infected while visiting England.

On average, the UK sees around 1,500 cases of STEC over the course of a year. Numbers of confirmed cases associated with this particular outbreak are expected to rise as further samples undergo whole genome sequencing.

The outbreak has impacted children as young as two, up to adults aged 79. However, the majority of cases appear to be in young adults.

While the source has not been confirmed, there is no evidence yet to suggest a link to open farms, drinking water or swimming in contaminated seawater, lakes or rivers.

The FSA is working with UKHSA and relevant public health bodies to identify the source of the illness, which is likely to be linked to one or more food items,”​ Darren Whitby, head of incidents and resilience at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), commented.

“We always advise consumers and those looking after vulnerable people to ensure good hygiene practices are followed when handling and preparing food, regularly washing hands with soap and warm water and ensuring equipment, utensils and surfaces foods come into contact with are cleaned thoroughly to prevent cross contamination.

“You should not prepare food for others if you have had symptoms, or for 48 hours after symptoms stop.”

Officials say further information and advice will be published as the investigation continues. However, it also notes that not all outbreak investigations reveal a source, particularly if they are linked to products that quickly leave the supply chain.

In other news, Lincolnshire will see a new food waste recycling site erected.

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