UK – The Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are looking into a possible salad-related E. coli O157 outbreak in the United Kingdom that has sickened more than 250 people.

Although most persons fell ill in August and early September, there have been 259 confirmed cases in the UK with sample dates ranging from late August to the end of October.

The number of patients has increased from the 192 recorded in September when health officials claimed that there had been no fatalities and no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome(HUS) had been documented. 

HUS is a form of kidney failure brought on by E. coli infections that can be fatal or cause major, lifelong health issues.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have all been hit by the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 outbreak with adults making up the bulk of the sick.

According to UKHSA, it is the biggest E. coli epidemic since whole genome sequencing (WGS) began to be utilized in 2014.

Investigations indicate that lettuce and salad leaves made in the UK may be at fault, but this has not yet been proven, reports Food Safety News.

The rise in reports, according to Dr. Lesley Larkin, Head of Surveillance, Gastrointestinal Diseases, and Food Safety at UKHSA, was caused by a specific strain of E. coli O157.

“Making sure you wash your hands with soap and water is the best way to stop this bug from spreading. When preparing food make sure you thoroughly wash salad, fruit, and vegetables and follow all the safe cooking instructions for meat,” she said.

A STEC O103 outbreak that resulted in 11 cases earlier this year was traced to raw milk cheese from a dairy farm in the East of England, while a STEC O145 outbreak that resulted in 10 patients was linked to milk products from a farm in the North West of England.

E.coli infections

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are mostly harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of people and animals and contribute to intestinal health.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days.

Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.

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