Nearly 200 Sick in UK E. coli O157 Outbreak

Public health officials in the UK are investigating an outbreak of E.coli O157 that has sickened almost 200 people in a month

Since early September, 192 genetically linked cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 have been found in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The majority of sick people are adults and no deaths have been linked to this incident.

No source of the rise in infections has been identified yet but patients are being interviewed to help find the cause of infection.

There has also been no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) reported. HUS is a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections that can result in lifelong, serious health problems and death.

Dr. Lesley Larkin, head of surveillance, gastrointestinal infections and food safety at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said a rise in E. coli cases notified to public health surveillance systems had been seen in recent weeks.

“The latest data shows early indications of a return back to expected levels for this time of year but we are continuing to closely monitor the situation. Whole genome sequencing shows us that this increase in reports is being driven by a particular strain of STEC O157 which has caused an outbreak, and we are investigating potential causes with public health and food safety experts in the UK and Ireland,” she said.

“Making sure you wash your hands with soap and water is the best way to stop this bug from spreading. When preparing food make sure you thoroughly wash salad, fruit and vegetables and follow all the safe cooking instructions for meat.”