One dead and more admitted to hospital in UK E.coli outbreak linked to minced beef

E.coli bacteria
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An outbreak of food poisoning bug E.coli looks likely to have been sparked by a minced beef product distributed across the country. One person died as reports were made of 26 people being hit by the potentially serious bacteria in June last year.

It was initially thought the outbreak in was sparked by hard cheese, cucumbers, strawberries, peppers or watermelon however it is now being linked instead to minced beef. And according to the researchers it is believed to be from a nationally distributed food item or several items.

Researchers carried out whole genome sequencing of samples and further investigations which led them to believe they were part of a single outbreak. And a report published in the journal Microbial Genomics confirmed that sufferers likely picked the illness up from eating beef burgers or minced beef.

The people who have fallen ill range in age from six months to 74, with the majority of cases in young adults. One person died after being infected with the bacteria linked to the outbreak. However researchers said the bacteria was not listed as either causal or contributory on the death certificate which meant the "contribution of the infection to this death is uncertain".

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria that are normally harmless and live in the intestines of humans and animals. However, some strains produce toxins that can make people very ill, such as Stec.

People infected with Stec can suffer diarrhoea, and about 50% of cases have bloody diarrhoea. Other symptoms include stomach cramps and fever and can last up to two weeks in uncomplicated cases.

Howeversome people, mainly children, may develop haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) which is a serious life-threatening condition resulting in kidney failure. A small proportion of adults may develop a similar condition called thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TTP).

An investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was carried out after initial inquiries indicated all 10 victims who completed a questionnaire had eaten either beef burgers, beef mince cooked at home or other beef mince products. It sought to find out if there were common beef suppliers and processers in order to identify the origin of the beef.

However, the complexity of the beef industry supply lines hampered progress. Food chain investigations were de-escalated once the outbreak was over, and the source of the contaminated food was never confirmed.

The report comes as a warning of a fresh E. coli outbreak was made by the UKHSA on Thursday. It has revealed that 113 people have been reported as having the infection since May 25 this year.

At present the source is unidentified with experts trying to track down where that originated. Cases have been reported across the country and it is thought it is coming from a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items