An outbreak of E. coli linked to salad vegetables is being reported across Europe. The World Health Organization has said this is being caused by a completely new strain of bacteria.
Cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) in Germany have risen to 470, with nine reported deaths. German authorities have also reported 1,064 cases of bloody diarrhoea caused by E. coli 0104 (VTEC) bacteria, with four deaths, bringing the total number of official reported deaths in Germany associated with this outbreak to 13.
The Health Protection Agency has confirmed one new case of HUS and three new cases of bloody diarrhoea in England. All are suspected to be related to the outbreak in Germany. Three of the four new cases, including the HUS case, are UK residents who recently travelled to Germany and the other is a German national on holiday in England. This brings the total number of outbreak-associated cases in England to seven – three HUS and four bloody diarrhoea. There are no reports of any secondary infections in England.
Cases have also occurred in other European countries and the USA, all with links to Germany.
Previous links to cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from Spain are now being described as “unsubstantiated” by German health authorities. Furthermore, they state that the source of the outbreak remains unclear. However, the advice from the German authorities remains that everyone, especially those in the north of the country, should avoid eating raw vegetables until further notice. The Public Health Agency (PHA) advises that anyone from Northern Ireland who is travelling to Germany should follow this guidance.
To date, there have been no reported cases in Northern Ireland. However, anyone who develops an illness that includes bloody diarrhoea following a recent trip to Germany should seek urgent medical advice and ensure that their travel history is made known to healthcare professionals.
For further information visit: www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&Page&HPAwebAutoListName/Page/1296687744200
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.