Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Toxic E.coli cases increase in UK

Four more people in the UK have food poisoning suspected to be linked to a toxic E.coli outbreak (AP)

Four more people in the UK have food poisoning suspected to be linked to a toxic E.coli outbreak, the Health Protection Agency said.

Those affected have bloody diarrhoea and have recently travelled to Germany. This is in addition to three Britons and four German nationals who are already being treated in the UK, including three for haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) - a deadly complication of E.coli.

The number of HUS cases in Germany has risen to 520 and 1,213 cases of bloody diarrhoea linked to the outbreak have been reported. Seventeen people have died.

Globally more than 1,800 people have been infected in the outbreak, and 18 people have died. People in 12 countries have fallen ill.

Around one in three of those affected have been hit by HUS, a complication that affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the central nervous system.

Experts in Germany said there are signs that the infection could be slowing, but have warned more cases will arise.

The outbreak is thought to be the deadliest in recent world history, and is one of the biggest. In 1996, 12 people died during a Japanese outbreak, while seven died in a Canadian outbreak in 2000.

Most of the recent cases are among people from northern Germany or those who have visited the area, where experts are trying to find the source of the outbreak.

Scientists believe salad vegetables and leaves may be to blame, although the World Health Organisation says the origin "of the outbreak still remains unknown".

The bug has now been identified in people in the Czech Republic, France and the United States, as well as Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

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