UK public health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 which sickened nearly 200 people in one month.
Since early September, 192 genetically linked cases of E. Shigatoxin-producing coli (STEC) O157 have been identified in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The majority of those ill are adults, but there were no deaths related to the incident.
No source of increased infections has yet been identified.
Dr Lesley Larkin, head of surveillance, gastrointestinal infections and food safety at the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), said an increase in cases of E. coli notified to public health surveillance systems had been observed in recent weeks.
“The latest data shows the first signs of a return to expected levels for this time of year, but we continue to monitor the situation closely. Whole genome sequencing shows us that this increase in reports is due to a strain particular case of STEC O157 which caused an outbreak, and we are investigating the potential causes with public health and food safety experts in the UK and Ireland,” she said.
“Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent this virus from spreading. When preparing food, be sure to wash salad, fruit and vegetables thoroughly. vegetables and follow all safe cooking instructions for meat.
About E. coli Infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about possible food poisoning. Specific tests are needed to diagnose infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
Symptoms of E. coli infections vary from person to person, but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover in five to seven days. Others may develop serious or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5-10% of people diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a life-threatening complication of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruising or bleeding, and paleness.
Many people with HUS recover within weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or die. This condition can occur in people of any age, but is more common in children under the age of five due to their immature immune system, older people due to deteriorating immune system, and people whose immune system is weakened, like cancer patients.
People with symptoms of HUS should seek emergency medical attention immediately. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the disease can cause other serious and persistent problems such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurological problems.
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