E.coli: 13 more confirmed cases of severe food poisoning linked to contaminated lettuce – yet there are signs the outbreak may be over

Thirteen more people have been struck down by E. coli with health officials stating the number of cases has now reached 288.

However, no further deaths have been reported since the single fatality attributed to the outbreak, which is believed to be linked to tainted salad leaves, late last month. 

In the latest update, The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said new cases continue to decline, with all confirmed patients suffering symptoms before June 10.   

They added however, that they expect a ‘small number of additional cases’ to be confirmed. 

And in a sign that the outbreak may be over UKHSA said it will stop publishing new case numbers due to the decline in new patients. 

Food safety chiefs have said they are ‘confident’ an Apollo type lettuce has caused the outbreak of the diarrhoea-causing bug. Efforts to confirm the root cause, however, are ongoing

UKHSA incident director, Amy Douglas, said the declining rate of new cases was positive.

‘It’s encouraging that reported cases are continuing to decline, however we still expect to see a few more cases linked to this outbreak as further samples are referred to us for testing,’ she said. 

The infections are due to a dangerous strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) with about half of known cases needing to hospital care as a result of their infection. 

Symptoms of STEC generally vary from mild to bloody diarrhoea, UKHSA says, with around half of people infected experiencing the latter.

Vomiting, fever and stomach cramps are other tell-tale signs of an infection. 

However, it can also cause a potentially deadly complication called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) which can lead to kidney failure and death.

To date, seven cases of HUS have been reported in the current outbreak.  

The E. coli outbreak is believed to be linked to tainted lettuce leaves and earlier this month more than 60 sandwiches, wraps and salads sold in 11 major shops were been slapped with ‘do not eat’ alerts as precautionary measure. 

Experts believe the texture of lettuce makes it more prone to being contaminated with E. coli though water tainted with infected animal faeces and the fact it’s not cooked, which would usually kill off bugs, increasing the risk. 

While the majority of known cases are thought to have been from consumption from infected food, two are believed to have been passed from person to person, for example parents caring for children who caught the bug. 

People have been advised to contact NHS 111 or their GP if they or their children show any symptoms of E. coli infection.

For children under five symptoms can include disinterest in breast or bottle feeding and signs of dehydration such as fewer wet nappies.

Both adults and children are advised to call NHS 111 or their GP if they keep vomiting for two days or have diarrhoea for a week.

Anyone suffering bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom should call NHS 111 or their GP immediately.

Those who are infected are advised to not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk