England

E. coli infections 'rise by 1,000' across England


The number of people infected with E. coli across England rose by more than 1,000 last year, figures have shown.

Dorset and North, East and West Devon were the worst hit for the infection with 629 and 612 cases each between September 2014 and September 2015.

Public Health England figures show there were 39,604 from September 2014 to September 2015, compared with 38,291 for the same period the year before.

The health authority said it was working to reduce the rate.

Wirral had the lowest number, 17, followed by Corby with 47.

Scientists have been working to devise a new ultra-sensitive test to detect a potentially deadly strain of E. coli, which has been found in Dorset.

To date, the O55 strain has affected 30 people, 10 of them children, in areas such as Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth, Blandford and Christchurch.

The children and one adult developed haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (UHS), which affected their kidneys and left them hospitalised.

Two cats have also been affected.

It is hoped the new test will be ready to use on animals in the new year.

July was the worst month of 2015 for E. coli with 3,371 cases.

Public Health England said the E. coli infection was one of the most common bloodstream infections in the UK.

"Tackling infections caused by E. coli and other bacteria, both in hospitals and in the community, is a priority for Public Health England and across the NHS," a spokeswoman said.


Avoiding E. coli infection

  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, before and after handling food and after handling animals
  • Remove any loose soil before storing vegetables and salads
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits that will be eaten raw
  • Store and prepare raw meat and unwashed vegetables away from ready-to-eat foods
  • Do not prepare raw vegetables with utensils that have also been used for raw meat
  • Cook all minced meat products, such as burgers and meat balls, thoroughly
  • People who have been ill should not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after they have recovered

Source: Public Health England


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