Public Health Lawyers Warn that Investigation into E Coli Outbreak Should Be Fast But Thorough

Outbreak of E. Coli O157 Strain Was Reported to Public Health England In June, Affecting More Than 100 people


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An investigation into an E. Coli outbreak affecting more than 100 people should be fast but thorough to spare others from infection, leading Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have warned.

The outbreak of E. Coli O157 has reportedly been linked to contaminated salad leaves according to Public Health England officials. So far 102 people in England, six in Wales and one in Scotland have contracted the bacterial infection, with the majority of cases in the south of England.

There are a number of different types of E. Coli and some can cause serious food poisoning which can cause a range of symptoms, from mild diarrhoea to bloody diarrhoea and severe abdominal pain, and significant long-lasting symptoms. It can also be fatal for the more vulnerable such as children and the elderly.

Public Health England (PHE) has reported that they have been monitoring the situation across the UK since it was alerted to the outbreak at the end of last month.

Although the root of the infection is not yet confirmed, preliminary investigations by PHE show many of those people affected had consumed salad leaves prior to falling ill. PHE said at this stage it was not ruling out other food items as a potential source. PHE have issued advisory notices that people can protect themselves from infection by washing their hands before eating and handling food, as well as washing vegetables and salads thoroughly before eating them.

Expert Opinion
“It is very concerning to hear of so many people, affected by the E. coli bacteria and we would urge Public Health bodies in England, Wales and Scotland to be thorough but fast with their investigations to ensure the root cause of this outbreak is quickly identified so that others are not affected by this infection.

“The nature of our work means that we have seen first-hand how serious E. coli is and we know of the significant and potentially long -lasting impact it can have upon those affected, particularly vulnerable people such as young children and the elderly. This is sadly shown by one of our recently concluded cases where a child contracted this infection and he may now require a kidney transplant later in life as a result of reduced kidney function.

“As well as reducing the risk of further people being affected, a swift and thorough investigation should also ensure that lessons can be learned which in turn could improve safety and reduce the risk of further outbreaks occurring in the future.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

Amandeep Dhillon, a partner and expert public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, has vast experience of representing victims of E. Coli in the UK and abroad such as those infected by the bacteria at the Newcastle Spice Festival in 2013.

Read more information on Irwin Mitchell's work in public health here.