The Public Health Agency (PHA) is investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 linked to Flicks restaurant in Cityside Mall, 100-150 York Street, Belfast.
Health Protection staff from the PHA are currently working with Environmental Health Officers from Belfast City Council to investigate the outbreak. As of 13.30 on 15 October 2012, there are 12 confirmed cases and 57 probable cases.
The management of Flicks have voluntarily closed the premises and are cooperating with the investigation.
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.
Dr Brian Smyth, Public Health Consultant, PHA, said: “The Escherichia coli bacteria is commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. There are many different types of E. coli, and while some live in the intestine quite harmlessly, others may cause a variety of diseases. The bacterium is found in faeces and can survive in the environment.
“Symptoms caused by E. coli O157 can include diarrhoea, which can range from mild to profuse watery or bloody diarrhoea, tummy cramps, nausea or vomiting.”
The PHA is also aware of four cases of E. coli O157 among adults in August which were linked to this restaurant, and alongside Belfast City Council Environmental Health Officers, investigated those at the time. All tests on the restaurant at that time were negative. In addition, further environmental health inspections were conducted, all of which were satisfactory, and enhanced surveillance to monitor for cases was also put in place. The current cases came to light through that enhanced monitoring.
As part of the investigation into the current outbreak, any potential link with the previous cases will be examined, although it is too early to comment further on this at such an early stage.
The PHA is urging everyone to make a habit of washing their hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.
For media enquiries, contact PHA Communications on (028) 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
Next update will be available by 3pm 16 Oct 2012
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
Information on E coli O157: