The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Environmental Health Officers from Belfast City Council are continuing to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 linked to Flicks restaurant in Cityside Mall, 100-150 York Street, Belfast.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health, PHA, said: “The PHA has activated a full public health response to this outbreak and the situation is being managed and monitored very closely.
“This is a complex, evolving and detailed investigation and all aspects of the outbreak are being examined thoroughly. As such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on any potential cause of the outbreak, but as with all outbreaks, a full report will be made publicly available when the investigation and analysis is complete.
“What we can say at this stage is that the information to date suggests no wider risk to the public from E coli O157 as regards this outbreak, and the restaurant remains closed. However, it is important that everyone helps to prevent the spread of E. coli and washes their hands after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food. People with vomiting or diarrhoea should remain at home and not prepare food – this is good advice at all times, not just when there is an outbreak.”
As of 3pm on Friday 26 October 2012, there were 130 confirmed cases and 163 probable cases. The increase in confirmed cases over the past week is not unexpected and is as a result of probable cases becoming confirmed following testing. The number of probable cases is levelling off as fewer new reports are coming forward.
The PHA has advised that anyone who ate at Flicks restaurant since 24 September and has symptoms of diarrhoea (especially bloody diarrhoea) and/or abdominal pain should contact their GP urgently for medical advice.
For media enquiries, contact PHA Communications on 028 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
- Updates will be issued once a week until further notice. The next update will be issued on Wednesday afternoon.
- Information on E. coli O157:http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/ecoli-O157
- For further information, the PHA leaflet Preventing food poisoning at home and in healthcare settings at: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/preventing-food-poisoning-home-and-healthcare-settings-0
- The PHA and Belfast City Council are also working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on investigating this incident. The FSA is the central authority for food safety and is a food regulator: http://www.food.gov.uk
- Examples of previous major E. coli outbreaks elsewhere in the UK:
- During August and September 2009 there was an outbreak of E. coli O157 among visitors to Godstone Farm in Surrey, England. 93 people were affected.
- In September 2005 there was an outbreak of E. coli O157 in Wales, with more than 150 cases, most of whom were children.
- In 1996, there was an E. coli O157 outbreak linked to a butcher’s in Lanarkshire, Scotland, which resulted in over 300 cases.