The latest update from Public Health England (PHE) regarding an E. coli 0157 outbreak thought to be linked to mixed salad leaves set outs the latest figures of reported cases, as well as news of further steps being taken by the health organisation.
The latest figures show that 151 cases of this strain of E. coli have been identified, with 144 in England, 6 in Wales and 1 in Scotland. The South West of England is believed to be particularly affected, whilst 62 of the reported cases are known to have received hospital care. Sadly, 2 individuals have died.
Although the source of the outbreak is not yet confirmed, PHE believes this strain is likely to be imported, possibly from the Mediterranean area. As a precautionary measure, PHE have contacted a small number of wholesalers to cease added some imported rocket leaves to their mixed salad products whilst the results of the ongoing investigations are obtained. The PHE has also reiterated its advise and stressed good hand and food hygiene practices at all time, encouraging people to ensure hands and washed and cleaned before handling food and that all vegetables that are to be eaten raw are thoroughly washed.
Symptoms of E.coli poisoning can include mild diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and stomach pains, to severe inflammation of the gut. In rare cases complications such as kidney failure and anaemia can occur.
You can get infected with E.coli O157 if you eat infected food, usually meat, unpasteurised milk and cheese; come into contact with infected animals, such as at a petting farm; through contact with people with poor personal hygiene who handle food you eat; by eating vegetables infected by manure from infected cattle; or by drinking or swimming in infected water.
The infection can be extremely serious and anyone with the symptoms associated with E.coli O157 poisoning should speak to a medical advisor.
Food safety lawyer Michelle Victor from law firm Leigh Day, whilst welcoming the update from PHE, was concerned by the increased numbers being reported:
“It is always concerning when such outbreaks occur, and the figures reported in the latest update show the tremendous impact food poisoning can have on people’s lives.
“Whilst many people are able to recover from food poisoning over the course of a few days, the number of hospital admittances for this outbreak, and the saddening news that two people have lost their lives, shows the potential severity of food poisoning.
“Public Health England must press forward with their investigations with the utmost urgency and ensure the origin of the strain is identified.”