11:44pm Thursday 12 December 2019

Latest PHA update on large outbreak of E. coli in Germany – important advice for travellers

Latest PHA update on large outbreak of E. coli in Germany – important advice for travellers

To date there has been no reported cases in Northern Ireland.

In Germany, the total number of cases associated with this organism is now in excess of 2,200. The investigation into this outbreak of E. coli is being led by the Robert Koch Institute, whose staff are conducting extensive epidemiological enquiries.

Cases have also arisen in other European countries and the USA, all with links to Germany. Within the UK, 11 cases have now been identified, all with a history of travel to Germany. No associated deaths in the UK have been reported.

Dr Philip Donaghy, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: “As German health authorities have so far been unable to definitely confirm a source of the outbreak, the PHA would advise anyone travelling to Germany to follow the German advice and avoid eating raw salad vegetables while in Germany until further notice. It is always good practice to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before use. 

“Peeling or cooking fruit and vegetables is also advised. Washing your hands before handling food and after going to the toilet will also prevent spread of E. coli and other infections.”

Northern Ireland has a robust surveillance system in place to monitor E. coli and other serious diseases. To date, there have been no reported cases in Northern Ireland. However, anyone who develops an illness that includes bloody diarrhoea following a recent trip to Germany should seek urgent medical advice from their GP, and ensure that they tell healthcare staff they’ve been to Germany.

A factsheet on E. coli can be found at: www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/health-matters-what-you-need-know-e-coli-o157

Further information

Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.

Notes to the editor

  1. Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) is a serious complication from verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) infection that affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the central nervous system. It is a serious illness that requires treatment in hospital and can be fatal.
  2. Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E. coli) bacteria usually cause diarrhoea, which settles within seven days without treatment. There are many strains of the infection. Occasionally, serious kidney and blood complications can occur, such as HUS.
  3. For further information, visit: www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&Page&HPAwebAutoListName/Page/1296687744200

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