Public Health England is investigating an E. coli O157 outbreak with people sick across the country.

One infection is in a four-year-old child from Hampshire named as Isla Aspery who needed treatment at Southampton General Hospital after a trip to the Isle of Wight.

Public Health England (PHE) South East and the Isle of Wight Council’s environmental health team investigated the illness in the young child who became severely sick with a complication as a result of infection.

Sometimes hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can develop. It is a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections. Young children and elderly people are more prone to developing the life-threatening complications associated with E. coli O157.

Source unknown for illness cluster
A PHE spokeswoman told Food Safety News that the case is linked to a cluster of infections in the United Kingdom that the agency is examining.

An investigation into the source of the infections is ongoing with no evidence to link it to the Isle of Wight at the current time.

There were 74 reports of Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) O157 in England and Wales from Public Health England’s National Enhanced Surveillance System from Sept. 2 to 29, bringing the total so far this year to 382 compared to 499 up to the same period last year.

People may be infected when they consume microscopic food or water contaminated by feces from infected animals. Infection may also result from contact with affected animals or from exposure to an environment contaminated with animal feces, such as farms. Unpasteurized, raw milk is also a source, as are raw foods such as fresh produce.

The incubation period can range from three to eight days and most patients recover within 10 days.

Dr. Anand Fernandes, consultant in health protection for PHE South East, said handwashing before handling food or eating food, or after touching animals and their environments, is important.

“E. coli O157 can cause a range of symptoms, from mild diarrhea to severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea and, on rare occasions, it can also cause more serious conditions. The best form of defense is to make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, or if you have been in contact with any animal or their feces.

“Anyone who suspects they may have a diarrheal illness should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and if they have severe symptoms like bloody diarrhea they should contact NHS 111 or their GP surgery.”

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