The Public Health Agency is continuing to monitor outbreaks of E. coli 0104 infection in Germany and France. E. coli 0104 infection causes bloody diarrhoea and, in some patients, causes haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that affects the kidneys. To date, there have been no cases of E. coli 0104 infection in Northern Ireland.
In Germany, there have been over 3,500 cases of bloody diarrhoea and HUS associated with E. coli 0104. In all, 43 deaths have been reported. The source of infection is believed to be locally grown sprouted seeds. In the last week, the number of new cases being reported has decreased.
Eight cases of bloody diarrhoea and HUS have been identified in the Bordeaux area of France, most likely also related to E. coli 0104 infection. There are a further suspected 8 cases. Again, contaminated seeds appear to be the source of infection. Investigations are ongoing.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced advice on the handling and consumption of sprouted seeds. These should not be eaten raw, but should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout. Equipment used for sprouting seeds should be cleaned after use and good hand hygiene should be followed after handling seeds. Further information can be found on www.food.gov.uk
Anyone with bloody diarrhoea (which is not a usual problem for them) should seek medical attention urgently, if severe. This is particularly important for children. Excellent food and hand hygiene is essential for everyone with diarrhoea but especially if it is bloody. If you have diarrhoea you should not go to work or school for 48 hours after full recovery.
A factsheet on E. coli can be found at: www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/health-matters-what-you-need-know-e-coli-o157
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611