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E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome


The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) declares E.coli (STEC) Outbreak

6th June 2024

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has advised of a large outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O145, that currently appears to be spreading across the UK. This follows news of a previous outbreak in 2023, which was highlighted in a report recently published in May this year.

 

According to the UKHSA “As of 4 June, there have been 113 confirmed cases associated with this outbreak of STEC O145 in the UK, all reported since 25 May 2024”.

 

The UKHSA advise there are “81 confirmed cases in England, 18 confirmed cases in Wales, 13 in Scotland and 1 confirmed case in Northern Ireland (for this case, evidence suggests that they acquired their infection while visiting England)”.

 

Further, UKHSA stated the “Numbers of confirmed cases associated with this outbreak are expected to rise as further samples undergo whole genome sequencing”.

 

UKHSA have also said “Based on the wide geographic spread of cases, it is most likely that this outbreak is linked to a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items”. 

 

Link to the UKHSA press release below:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-coli-advice-issued-amid-rise-in-cases

 

In addition, it was reported in the media via the Sun newspaper and Food Safety News (FSN) yesterday, that there was an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O183:H18 between May and July 2023. There were at least 26 confirmed cases and a possible further case in the UK.

 

O183:H18 is a rare type of STEC.

 

This scientific research was published in the journal Microbial Genomics.

 

This research indicated the following: “The epidemiological and food chain investigations were inconclusive, although meat products made from beef mince were implicated as a potential vehicle”. 

 

“The colleagues from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) initiated a food chain investigation to ascertain common beef suppliers and processers in order to identify the origin of the beef. However, the complexity of the beef industry supply lines hampered progress. Food chain investigations were de-escalated once the outbreak was over, and the source of the contaminated food was never confirmed”.

 

“To date there has been one case of HUS (basically kidney damage) and one reported death in a case associated with this outbreak, however STEC was not listed as causal or contributory on the death certificate and the potential contribution of their STEC infection to this death is uncertain”.

 

“The outbreak is likely to be more widespread than described here, as many local laboratories in England do not perform PCR and would therefore miss the diagnosis. In 2023, approximately one third of local and regional hospital laboratories in England have implemented PCR, although none of these laboratories have the capability to culture all STEC serotypes”. 

 

The above research highlights the need for more local and regional hospital laboratories to have a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) capability etc. as well as more robust traceability in the food chain. 

 

Link to The Sun newspaper and Food Safety News (FSN) articles below:

 

https://www.thesun.co.uk/health/28311202/dead-severely-ill-uk-e-coli-outbreak-minced-beef/

 

https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2024/06/uncommon-e-coli-outbreak-in-uk-linked-to-beef/




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