Category Archives: Microbiology

UK – England: Health officials warn of E. coli STEC infections in individuals returning from Egypt

Outbreak News Today

British health officials are advising travelers to Egypt of a number of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections reported in people who traveled to the Hurghada region of Egypt.

There have been 18 cases of STEC in individuals returning from Egypt in 2019, including one case of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

E. coli can cause an unpleasant diarrhea illness with stomach cramps and occasionally fever. Most people will recover without the need for medical treatment, but younger and older people may go on to develop complications of the infection, leading to kidney failure. This rare condition is called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which in very rare circumstances can be fatal.

E. coli is caught through ingesting contaminated food or water.


PHE recommends travellers to the region to:

  • where possible, avoid eating salads and uncooked vegetables
  • only eat fruit they can peel
  • avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese and ice cream
  • avoid food that has been left uncovered in warm environments and exposed to flies
  • ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly before you eat it, avoiding any meat that is pink or cold
  • avoid ice, unless made with filtered or bottled water, and tap water, even when brushing teeth
  • only drink bottled water or use ice made from bottled/filtered water
  • wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food. Alcohol gel can be helpful (but not entirely effective) when hand washing facilities are not available
  • when swimming, try and avoid swallowing water where possible and supervise children when swimming.
  • don’t swim whilst ill

For more information, visit NHS.UK.

This advice also applies to other countries where E. coli infections are common, including Turkey and Spain.

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:

We are aware of people returning from Egypt with E. coli infections, some with a serious kidney complication called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). We are gathering information about those affected to better understand the cause.

There are simple precautions that travellers can take. These include ensuring meat is cooked thoroughly, not drinking tap water or ice made from tap water and trying to avoid swallowing water when swimming.

Anyone suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting should ensure they keep well hydrated and seek medical advice if their symptoms don’t improve within 48 hours. They should also avoid preparing or serving food while they have symptoms and thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet to stop the bug being passed to others. Individuals with symptoms after returning from holiday should seek medical advice from their GP or NHS 111.


Hong Kong – Test results of targeted surveillance on coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms in ready-to-eat food all satisfactory



Image CDC

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (July 8) announced the results of a recently completed targeted food surveillance project on coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms (including Staphylococcus aureus) in ready-to-eat food. All samples passed the test.

A spokesman for the CFS said that a total of 300 ready-to-eat food samples were collected from different retail outlets (including online retailers) and food factories for testing of coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms this year. The samples included meat, poultry and their products (for example shredded chicken, siu mei and lo mei), salad, sashimi and sushi, dessert, Chinese cold dishes, sandwiches and steamed rice rolls.

The spokesman pointed out that Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that can cause food poisoning. It exists widely in the environment and is commonly found in the nasal cavity, throat, hair and skin of healthy individuals. It is also present in large numbers in wounds and infected regions. If food handlers do not observe good personal hygiene, Staphylococcus aureus can pass to foods from them. Foods stored at ambient temperature for a prolonged period will allow the toxin-producing Staphylococcus aureus to multiply and form elaborate enterotoxins which can cause food poisoning. Although most cases of infection are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, other coagulase-positive staphylococci species can also produce enterotoxins which can lead to food poisoning.

Food poisoning caused by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms is usually associated with foods that require considerable manual handling during preparation and no subsequent cooking is required before consumption. The poisoning risk cannot be eliminated by reheating as enterotoxins produced by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms cannot be destroyed under normal cooking temperatures. Common symptoms of food poisoning caused by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, often accompanied by diarrhoea.

“Despite the fact that test results of the samples were all satisfactory, the trade and the public should not take the risk lightly. They should always maintain good personal, environmental and food hygiene to ensure food safety. To prevent food poisoning caused by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms, members of the public are reminded to keep perishable foods or leftovers at or below 4 degrees Celsius or above 60 degrees C. The trade should adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practice that cooked food should be cooled from 60 degrees C to 20 degrees C as quickly as possible (within two hours), and from 20 degrees C to 4 degrees C within four hours or less,” the spokesman said.

Iceland – E. coli O26 cluster rises to 17 cases, Linked to Efstidalur II farm

Outbreak News Today

In a follow-up on a recent report, Iceland health officials reported an additional E. coli infection in a one and a half year old child Friday, bringing the total cases in the cluster to 17.

A cluster of infections due to verotoxin producing Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O26:H11 has been linked to the tourist attraction Efstidalur II, a farm and restaurant near Laugarvatn, about 55 miles from Reykjavik in the south of Iceland.

Research – Stainless Steel Sinks & Taps Linked to Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionella Control

CDC legionella

Image CDC

Recent research looking at the growth of Legionella bacteria on stainless steel sinks and taps has shown that under certain conditions, the use of this popular metal can increase the health risks associated with the potentially life-threatening Legionnaires’ disease.

Stainless steel sinks are a popular choice in kitchens throughout the UK… however, research has indicated it may not be the wisest choice when considering the associated risks presented by the potentially deadly Legionella bacteria.

The same applies to stainless steel taps – also a popular choice for many understandable reasons.

Ireland – Giardiasis in Ireland, 2018


Key Facts
 Reported incidence of giardiasis in Ireland in 2018 is 5.7 per 100,000, similar to the
reported incidence at EU level
 Increase in recent yearsbelieved to be largely due to recent changes in laboratory
 The ratio to male to female cases is 1.4:1
 More than two thirds of cases were reported to be acquired in Ireland, a change to our
historical understanding of giardiasis as a travel-acquired infection
 It is likely there is still under-ascertainment of giardiasis cases in several HSE-areas.
 Much remains to be done in Ireland and across Europe to better understand the
epidemiology and determinants of this disease


USA – San Diego County Fair E. coli Outbreak Has Now Sickened 10

Food Poisoning Bulletin

The E. coli outbreak at the San Diego County Fair has now sickened 10 people, according to the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency. There is one more probable case that has not yet been confirmed. Three people have been hospitalized, and one 2-year-old child has died.

Officials have still not found the source of the pathogen. All of the children who are sick visited the animal areas, petting zoo, or had other animal contact at the fair. County Environmental health re-inspected food facilities that were visited by the children and found no link to the cases.

Unfortunately, E. coli outbreaks linked to animal attractions at fairs, petting zoos, and farm tourist attractions are nothing new. Almost every year children are sickened after visiting these venues

RASFF Alert – Microbial Contamination – Green Olives


RASFF – microbial contamination of green olives from Turkey in Germany