Ireland – Irish officials warn about rise in E. coli infections

Food Safety News

Health officials in the Republic of Ireland have issued a warning after an increase in E. coli cases and outbreaks in recent weeks.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West reported that in a four week period there have been more than 20 E. coli cases reported in the region, including several hospitalizations.

Public health teams have managed and investigated outbreaks and cases in households and rural settings, particularly on or near farms, and sites with access to a private well supply. Sources of infection are under investigation.

Officials also confirmed a “small number” of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) cases. HUS is a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infection.

The Mid-West region, which includes Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary, has one of the top rates of E. coli in the country, and Ireland has one of the highest rates in Europe.

In the past decade, there have been 1,250 cases of E. coli in the Mid-West region, with the highest number being 164 infections in 2021.

Infection can be acquired through contact with farm animals or their environment, from eating unwashed or undercooked contaminated food, drinking water from contaminated sources, and from contact with infected people such as in household or childcare settings where there are nappy changing or shared toilet facilities.

Meanwhile, an E. coli outbreak in Scotland has affected at least 50 people. Two nurseries in East Lothian have now reopened. Some patients were hospitalized but most people had mild symptoms and did not require hospital treatment.

Public Health Wales also recently reported an increase in cases of diarrhea and vomiting, specifically those caused by E. coli, in the Wrexham and Flintshire areas.

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