PRO/AH/EDR> E. coli EHEC - Ireland: alert - ISS (EN)
European Union Reference Laboratory for Escherichia coli
E. COLI EHEC - IRELAND: ALERT
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Date: Mon 29 Mar 2021 16:11 IST
Source: Irish Mirror [edited] <https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/health-news/urgent-warning-issued-after-outbreak-23816425>
Urgent warning issued after outbreak of _E. coli_ in Ireland
The Department of Public Health has reiterated the importance of hand hygiene, and effective well water treatment, following an outbreak of a powerful strain of _E. coli_. Public Health Mid West said it is presently managing an outbreak of enterohemorrhagic _E. coli_ (EHEC) of young children in a single setting. The bacterium can cause serious illness and also effects the elderly.
"We can confirm that it is currently under control, and we would like to reassure the public that these isolated outbreaks do not affect the department's work in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, or any other infectious disease in the region," said a spokesman.
EHEC can live in the gut of healthy cattle and sheep but can be a source of food poisoning by producing a toxin that can cause inflammation of the bowel, which can lead to severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. The symptoms can last up to 9 days, while some people may experience very mild or no symptoms at all.
EHEC is most commonly transmitted through contact with farm animals (including those in pet and open farms); untreated water from private wells; person to person contact in creches or households where there are children under five years of age; and through food and drinks that are contaminated with tiny amounts of faecal matter.
Whilst VTEC is usually uncomplicated and most people recover without issue, treating it by drinking plenty of fluids, it is known that antibacterials may increase the risk of Hemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), leading to the destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure, with some patients requiring intensive dialysis treatment. EHEC can be particularly problematic as it can cause HUS in 5-10% of cases. 5 percent of people who develop this dangerous, life-threatening condition may die.
According to Public Health Mid West, incidences of EHEC tend to be higher in warmer weather, particularly during the summer, however, the annual case number is likely to be lower in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Mid-West, there were 128 cases in 2018; 130 in 2019; and provisionally 117 in 2020.
"Ireland has one of the highest incidence rates of EHEC in Europe, and the Mid-West has one of highest incidence rates in Ireland", said Dr Rose Fitzgerald, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at Public Health Mid-West. "While the bacteria can last in the system for as short as a week, it can sometimes take several months to clear the infection."
"Anyone who is infected, or is a close contact of a case requires clearance from a public health doctor to attend healthcare, childcare, or work that involves food-handling," Dr Fitzgerald added. "It is a serious disease that can cause serious life-changing illness in young children and the elderly, and it underpins the importance of hand hygiene before and after preparing food, after contact with farm animals and their environment, and effective treatment and rehabilitation of private wells.
[Byline: David Raleigh]
Communicated by: ProMED <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[The serotype of the enterohemorrhagic _E. coli_ in this outbreak is not stated nor are the circumstances around the "single setting." It is certainly likely that this was a nursery school or childcare setting with child-to-child transmission. - Mod.LL
HealthMap/ProMED map of Ireland: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/39>