Government experts are investigating whether the deadly new superbug that has caused over 57 deaths in the UK may be linked to British farms.
The form of e-coli, known as ESBL e-coli, was found in sick calves last year on a dairy farm in Wales, since then similar forms have been found on nine farms across Britain. The bug is also known to exist in other countries world wide.
It is thought that the bug may be caused by using certain antibiotics that are intended to kill e-coli in animals. As a side-effect the animals have developed resistant strains of the bug that cannot be destroyed.
It is possible that the infection can spread to humans through meat and milk. It can be carried in the gut of humans and is a particular risk to the vulnerable such as the elderly. The government allege that the strain found in animals is different to that in humans. However the Soil Association suggests this may be due to a mutation of the bug.
28 people in Shropshire have died from ESBL e-coli and over 200 in the area infected. Another 29 deaths have occurred in Southampton and other cases have been revealed across the country. Given the number of fatalities there are concerns the new superbug could become as serious as MRSA.
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