E. Coli Outbreak in the UK: What You Need to Know

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E. Coli Outbreak in the UK: What You Need to Know

As of June 18, there have been 45 new cases associated with the recent outbreak of STEC O145, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 256 in the UK. All currently confirmed cases had symptom onset dates before May 31. Although the rate of cases has slowed, experts expect the figure to rise as NHS laboratories refer specimens to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) for genomic sequencing, which can link cases to this outbreak strain.

E. Coli Outbreak In The Uk: What You Need To Know

Here’s a breakdown of confirmed cases by country:

  • England: 168 cases
  • Scotland: 56 cases
  • Wales: 29 cases
  • Northern Ireland: 3 cases (evidence suggests they acquired their infection in England)

Based on information from 227 cases, 38% were admitted to the hospital.

Investigations have pinpointed pre-packaged sandwich products containing lettuce as the likely source of the outbreak. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have issued precautionary product recall notices for a range of potentially contaminated products. Collaborating closely with the FSA, FSS, and devolved public health agencies, epidemiological investigations, whole genome sequence analysis, and food chain investigations are ongoing to confirm the cause of this outbreak.

Dr. Colin Brown, Incident Director at UKHSA, emphasises the importance of recognising symptoms of STEC infections, which include severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever. While diarrhoea and vomiting can have various causes, simple steps can reduce your risk and prevent further spread:

  1. Hand hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  2. Surface cleaning: Use disinfectants to clean surfaces.
  3. Avoid food preparation: If unwell, refrain from preparing food for others.
  4. Hospital and care home visits: Avoid visiting these settings to prevent infection transmission.
  5. Return to normal activities: Wait 48 hours after symptoms have stopped before returning to work, school, or nursery.

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