UK E. coli Outbreak: 37 Hospitalised, Nationwide Investigation Underway

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UK E. coli Outbreak: 37 Hospitalised, Nationwide Investigation Underway

An outbreak of E. coli has swept across the UK, with at least 37 people admitted to hospital due to illness believed to be linked to food consumption, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reported.

The UKHSA revealed that whole genome sequencing of samples indicates that most of the 113 cases reported between May 25 and June 24 are part of a single outbreak. This outbreak, predominantly affecting young adults, has prompted a nationwide investigation into the possible sources of contamination.

In response to the outbreak, the UKHSA is collaborating with public health agencies across Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, along with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland, to identify the cause of the illness.

Trish Mannes, incident director at UKHSA, emphasized the importance of hygiene measures to prevent further spread of the infection: “If you have diarrhoea and vomiting, you can take steps to avoid passing it on to family and friends. NHS.uk has information on what to do if you have symptoms and when to seek medical advice.”

The UKHSA has reported cases across the UK as follows: 81 in England, 18 in Wales, 13 in Scotland, and 1 in Northern Ireland (with evidence suggesting acquisition of infection while visiting England).

Darren Whitby, head of incidents and resilience at the Food Standards Agency, advised consumers and caregivers to prioritize good hygiene practices when handling and preparing food to prevent cross-contamination.

At present, the specific food item responsible for the outbreak remains unknown, but investigations are ongoing.

Symptoms and Transmission

The symptoms of E. coli include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and occasionally fever. These symptoms typically manifest three to four days after infection but can occur within one to 14 days.

E. coli is often transmitted through contaminated food consumption but can also spread through close contact with an infected person.

The investigation into the outbreak and efforts to identify the source of contamination continue as health authorities work to safeguard public health.

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