NHS investigate Angus E.coli incident

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories

NHS Tayside Health Protection Team and Angus Council are investigating linked cases of E.coli O157 infection affecting a small number of children in the Angus area.

Possible sources and routes of transmission are currently being investigated and necessary control measures have been put in place to prevent further spread. Those affected cases continue to be monitored and have received appropriate medical treatment and advice.

As a precautionary measure, a playgroup in Angus has voluntarily closed temporarily while further investigations continue. NHS Tayside’s Health Protection Team has also issued information to parents at the playgroup and an Angus primary school advising them of what action to take if they have concerns about their child’s health.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the name of a family of bacteria (germs) commonly found in farm animals and outdoor environments. Some strains of E. coli are harmless; however some types produce toxins that can cause illness in people.

Someone can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water, or by contact with other people who are infected, or with animals (e.g. at farms or zoos) carrying the bacteria.

Symptoms of E.coli O157 include diarrhoea – sometimes with blood, fever, stomach pain/cramps, nausea and/or vomiting and generally feeling/being unwell.

Consultant in public health medicine Dr Jackie Hyland said, “NHS Tayside and Angus Council are together investigating a small number of linked cases of E.coli O157 infection. The risk to the general public remains low and those affected have received appropriate medical treatment and advice.”

Further information can be obtained by calling the helpline number on 0800 028 2816. This is available every day between 8am and 10pm.

Notes to Editors:

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the name of a family of bacteria (germs) commonly found in farm animals and outdoor environments. Some strains of E. coli are harmless; however some types produce toxins that can cause illness in people. You can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water, or by contact with other people who are infected, or with animals (e.g. at farms or zoos) carrying the bacteria.

Symptoms of E. coli O157 include:

- Diarrhoea – sometimes with blood

- Fever

- Stomach pain/cramps

- Nausea and/or vomiting

- Generally feeling/being unwell

Rarely, it can lead to more serious complications. Young children and the elderly are most vulnerable.

Good hand hygiene is the best way of protecting yourself and your family against E. coli. Precautions that everyone should take to prevent this and other infections are:

Thorough hand washing, taking care to clean the fingertips and between the fingers – before preparing, handling or eating food; after handling any raw food especially meat or poultry; after handling pets and other animals, or working or taking part in recreational activities outdoors; and after going to the toilet or changing nappies.

Ensure that all foodstuffs derived from animal sources are thoroughly cooked.

Do not drink any unpasteurised (raw) milk or milk bottles where the tops have been pecked by birds.

Do not use the same chopping board or kitchen source or knife for raw meant and then for other foodstuffs without washing it thoroughly first to prevent cross contamination.

Store cooked meat at the top of the fridge and the uncooked meat at the bottom.

Thoroughly wash all salad, vegetables and fruit before consumption. Do not wash raw meat or poultry as this will splash germs around.

Remove any clothing contaminated with animal faeces (e.g. Wellington boots, overalls) when entering your house and then wash your hands.