One person in England dies amid ongoing E.coli outbreak – Sky News

The Food Standards Agency says the investigation “remains complex” and it is continuing to “work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers”.
Thursday 27 June 2024 19:07, UK
The death of a person in England has been linked to the ongoing E.coli outbreak, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.
Lettuce has been identified as the source, it emerged last week.
While two people in England have died within 28 days of being infected with the current strain, information from clinicians suggests “one of these deaths is likely linked to their STEC [Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli] infection”, the UKHSA said.
Both individuals had underlying medical conditions and they both died in May.
At least 122 people have been admitted to hospital for treatment since the outbreak began.
Current case totals are as follows: 182 in England; 58 in Scotland; 31 in Wales; and four in Northern Ireland, although “evidence suggests” those four people “acquired their infection in England”, the health body added.
As of 25 June, a further 19 cases had been reported in the latest seven-day period.
It brings the total number of confirmed infections across the UK to 275.
All currently registered cases showed symptoms before 4 June.
A number of food manufacturers have recalled sandwiches, wraps and salads sold in major retail chains over fears they may be linked to the outbreak.
Science and technology editor
It is tragic, but perhaps not surprising, that there has been a death associated with a UK-wide E.coli outbreak of this size.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is the most dangerous of all common diarrhoeal infections in the UK.
For most people it just causes particularly severe stomach upset with fatalities in about 0.5% of cases – most of those in people over the age of 65 or very young children.
The specific strain involved in this latest outbreak, E.coli O145 t5:206, is particularly nasty.
According to the UKHSA it is associated with more severe disease and an increased likelihood of something called Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure and death.
The individual that died in this latest outbreak was an adult and did not have HUS.
However, the UKHSA said they did have underlying medical conditions which would increase their vulnerability to STEC.
While the outbreak cannot be declared “over” until the precise source of the contamination of salad leaves is confirmed, the fact there have been no new cases of E.coli 0145 since 24 June suggests things are heading in the right direction.
E. coli is a diverse group of normally harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of humans and animals.
Some strains, however, produce toxins which can cause severe illness, such as STEC.
While the UKHSA said the number of infections being reported is going down, it expects to see more.
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That is because samples are still being referred from the NHS, and “whole genome sequencing” is being conducted.
Symptoms include “severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever”, said Amy Douglas, the UKHSA’s incident director.
Simple steps to avoid becoming infected include washing your hands with soap and warm water and using disinfectants to clean surfaces, she added.
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Those people who are unwell should not prepare food for others and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes.
They are also advised not to return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.
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Darren Whitby, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said the investigation “remains complex”.
He added: “We continue to work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers.
“Although we are confident in the likely source of the outbreak being linked to lettuce, work continues to confirm this and identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a re-occurrence.”

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