Illness Lawyers Call For Urgent Action Following Second E. Coli Outbreak

The Outbreak Comes Just Weeks After PHE Confirmed 85 Victims of Separate E. Coli Strain

27.11.2014

Specialist lawyers representing victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad have called for authorities to work quickly to determine the cause of an E-coli outbreak that comes just weeks after a similar outbreak that affected 85 people around the UK.

New reports from Public Health England (PHE) indicate 10 confirmed victims of E. coli (VTEC 055) in Dorset since July. The organisation noted that seven of those affected by the rare strain have developed kidney problems, a serious complication of an E. coli infection.

The PHE and local authorities have issued letters to parents of children who attend the Blandford Children's Centre Nursery, as a number of cases are associated with the facility.

The investigation comes just weeks after a national E. coli outbreak of the O157 strain and a matter of months after a national Salmonella outbreak between June and August 2014, which affected food outlets, restaurants and hospitals, and has raised concerns about the measures in place to monitor and prevent serious bacterial illnesses in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) is continuing to investigate both E. coli outbreaks, but it noted that as yet there is “no clear indication” of the cause of the outbreak.  However, all of those affected are reported to have tested positive for the same strain of E-coli and specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say it is crucial that the source is identified as soon as possible to prevent more people becoming ill.

Irwin Mitchell’s illness lawyers specialise in helping victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad to gain justice. The team have successfully represented over 1,000 victims who have fallen ill in a single outbreak of illness and have recovered compensation for tens of thousands of illness victims in the UK and abroad, including for many victims who have contracted E-coli.

The team are currently helping thousands of clients who have contracted illness due to contaminated foodstuffs including dozens of victims of illness (including E-coli) at the Street Spice food festival in Newcastle in 2013, which affected over 300 people, and dozens more who fell ill having eaten at The Real China restaurant in Eastleigh, near Southampton, which was reportedly part of the wider national Salmonella outbreak earlier this year.

Amandeep Dhillon, a Partner and leading Public Health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: 
Expert Opinion
It is very serious that so many cases of E-coli have been confirmed by Public Health England in recent weeks and it is crucial that action is taken by health authorities to investigate the cause of these issues thoroughly and identify the cause or causes of the outbreak and any links between individual cases.

“The fact that it follows on from nationwide outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella earlier this year is very concerning as bacterial infections can be fatal. In recent months we have been asked for help by a significant number of members of the public following illness outbreaks in the UK.

“Due to our experience in this area, we know that all of those affected by the latest outbreak will be desperate for answers and it is vital that authorities act promptly to ensure that they have the best opportunity to find them.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

Jenny Morris, Head of the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity & Protection said: “When you are choosing where to buy or eat food it’s always a good idea to check the Food Hygiene Rating Score (FHRS). If the business is not displaying this, ask about it. Alternatively you can check on the FHRS website or you could download an app to your mobile phone that will give you the details.”

Kerry Goodson, 33, from Wallsend, suffered with E-coli following the Street Spice Festival in Newcastle in 2013. Shortly after visiting the event she began to suffer diarrhoea, abdominal pains and vomiting.

Speaking about her experience she said: “Visiting the Street Spice festival was supposed to be enjoyable, but it really affected my life as I contracted E-coli and suffered horrendous symptoms for weeks after the event. I was so ill I had to take time off work as well as having to live with the horrible illness.” 

Amandeep Dhillon added:

Expert Opinion
E. coli can have a significant impact on victims, particularly vulnerable people such as the elderly or young children. Some strains of E-coli can cause very serious and permanent effects on health, including brain damage, kidney damage and other serious conditions as we have seen in this most recent outbreak. It is vital the PHE discover the cause of the latest outbreak and take appropriate action to control the outbreak and prevent it from spreading any further.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner