18 people in Wales ill after E.coli outbreak linked to food

Colonies of E. coli isolated from a patient's blood
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images Rodolfo Parulan Jr)

There are 18 people in Wales who have confirmed cases of e.coli linked to an outbreak suspected to be caused by a "nationally distributed food". Half of those in Wales have been hospitalised, Public Health Wales confirmed.

Health bosses across the UK are working together to investigate an increase in the number of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli cases over the last few weeks. According to the UK Health Security Agency, as of June 4 there have been 113 confirmed cases associated with the outbreak which is being described as STEC 0145, all reported since May 25. Out of this number 18 have been in Wales.

A further 81 have been reported in England, 13 in Scotland, and one case in Northern Ireland, which is suspected to have been picked up during a trip to England. Health bosses have warned they expect to see the number of cases linked to this outbreak to rise.

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The infection has affected people aged between two to 79, with the majority of cases in young adults. The UKHSA has not confirmed what food they believe has caused the infection, but has said based on the widespread geographic cases, it is likely linked to a "nationally distributed food item or multiple food items".

Wendi Shepherd, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, said: "Public Health Wales is working with partners in the UK and across the Welsh NHS to investigate this incident. There are currently 18 cases identified in Wales and healthcare providers have been advised of the increase in cases. We would advise anyone who has experienced bloody diarrhoea or severe stomach cramps to seek medical attention." For the latest health and Covid news, sign up to our newsletter here

What are the symptoms of E.coli?

  • diarrhoea

  • stomach cramps

  • fever

  • bloody diarrhoea

When to see a doctor

According to the NHS, there is no specific treatment for E.coli infection. People who are infected can usually be cared for at home and most will get better without treatment. It is important to drink plenty of fluids as diarrhoea can lead to dehydration.

However it is important to go to your GP if you or your child has bloody diarrhoea. Anyone who has had an E.coli infection should stay away from work or school until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

Anyone who is suffering with diarrhoea or vomiting is advised to take some simple hygiene precautions to reduce the risk of passing the illness onto others:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food and after going to the toilet. It is preferable to use liquid soap.

  • Where possible, don’t prepare food for others.

  • Wash any soiled bedding or clothing on as high a temperature as possible.

  • Provide separate towels for anyone who is ill.

  • Clean all surfaces, including food preparation surfaces and door handles on a regular (at least daily) basis with usual cleaning materials.