One person dies in England amid ongoing E.coli outbreak

The outbreak of the shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) is thought to have been caused by some supermarket sandwiches containing salad leaves.
-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)

One person in England has died amid an ongoing outbreak of E.coli, it has been confirmed. The UK Health Security Agency said the person died in May and had underlying health conditions.

The outbreak of the shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) is thought to have been caused by some supermarket sandwiches containing salad leaves. As of Tuesday June 25, there have been a further 19 cases recorded - bringing the total to 275 confirmed cases across the UK.

Experts have recorded 182 cases in England, 58 in Scotland and 31 in Wales. There have also been four confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, with evidence suggesting they contracted the infection in England.

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All confirmed cases had symptoms before June 4. Several food manufacturers have pulled sandwiches, wraps and salads from supermarket shelves over E.coli fears.

The UKHSA said reporting rates for cases was dropping but it said it expected to see 'more cases linked to this outbreak as further samples are referred' to it from 'NHS laboratories and whole genome sequencing is conducted'. Amy Douglas, incident director at UKHSA, said: "We’re pleased that fewer cases have been reported, however we still expect to see a few more cases linked to this outbreak as further samples are referred to us for testing.

"Symptoms of infections with STEC include severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever. While diarrhoea and vomiting can have a range of causes, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and the risk of infecting others.

"Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using disinfectants to clean surfaces will help stop any further spread of infection. If you are unwell, you should not prepare food for others while unwell and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings.

"Do not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. If you are concerned about your symptoms, follow NHS.UK guidance on when to seek help and the steps you can take to avoid further spread to family and friends."

The UKHSA said two people in England had died within 28 days of getting infected with STEC. But just one of these deaths is being linked to the outbreak. Both people had underlying medical conditions and died in May.

Based on information from 249 cases, 49 per cent were admitted to hospital. Darren Whitby, head of Incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said: "Earlier this month, we confirmed that several sandwich manufacturers had taken precautionary action to withdraw and recall various sandwiches, wraps, subs and rolls after food chain and epidemiological links enabled us to narrow down a wide range of foods to a type of lettuce used in sandwich products as the likely cause of the outbreak.

"This remains a complex investigation and we continue to work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers. Although we are confident in the likely source of the outbreak being linked to lettuce, work continues to confirm this and identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a re-occurrence."