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Last UK E. coli Victim Goes Home

The last of the 93 children infected by E. coli O157:H7 at Godstone Farm at Surrey have been discharged from the hospital, the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said Friday.

While not every victim of the outbreak required a hospital stay, the last of those released was two-year old Aaron Furnell of Paddock Wood, Kent.  The tot will still require dialysis and doctors will monitor his condition to see if kidney damage is permanent.

HPA was called to Godstone Farm last Aug. 8th, and immediately suspected children were getting sick from visiting its “pet zoo” attractions.

About 2,000 visitors a day were going through the farm’s attractions, and HPA did not require it to shut down until Sept. 12th.

Parents of children who became sick in the later stages of the outbreak are highly critical of HPA’s slow action in closing the farm.

Because of that uproar, George Griffin, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Medicine at St. George’s University of London, was named to lead an outside investigation of the E. coli outbreak at Godstone Farm.

The HPA’s Board of Directors appointed Griffin, who also chairs the UK’s Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens.

The outside investigation will focus on factors that contributed to the outbreak and how it was handled. Justin McCracken, HPA’s Chief Executive, said he wants recommendations to include ways to reduce the risk of contracting E. coli O157:H7 when children visit such petting zoos.

McCracken, who visited some children and parents in hospitals when the outbreak was peaking, said he also wants to improve “health protection response in future outbreaks of this organism.”

When completed, Professor Griffin’s report will be made public.

© Food Safety News