Health officials in Ireland continue the investigation into a large outbreak of E. coli 0157 that has affected scores and has been linked to a Belfast restaurant, according to a Public Health Agency update Oct. 18.
According to the release, as of 3pm on Thursday 18 October 2012, there were 29 confirmed cases and 202 probable cases of the bacterial infection. At least 15 people required hospitalization for their illness.
Public Health Agency (PHA) and Environmental Health Officers from Belfast City Council continue the investigation into the outbreak and the link to Flicks restaurant in Cityside Mall, Belfast.
Health authorities say that the management of Flicks is cooperating with the investigation.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health, PHA, said: “The PHA has activated a full public health response to this outbreak and the situation is being managed and monitored very closely.”
Investigations are continuing and conclusions will emerge when all cases have been identified and analyzed to identify any common links.
The PHA says at least two different strains of the bacterium have been identified. They confirmed today that the type of E. coli 0157 in cases in October is different from the type found in August cases associated with the same restaurant. These results are from a first phase of typing tests, which showed the cases in August to be Type 8. The confirmed cases in October are Type 54. It is too early to draw definitive conclusions at this stage.
E. coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines and feces of animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, deer and elk, or in raw meat from these animals. Some of these bacteria produce a toxin, called Shiga toxin, which can make humans severely ill.
Symptoms of the diseases caused by E.coli O157 include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may in some cases progress to bloody diarrhea. The infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with E.coli infection may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5%.
Anyone can get this illness, but it is particularly dangerous for young children and the elderly. Symptoms may not appear for as many as 10 days after infection.
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