Salad leaves under suspicion for tummy bug outbreak

Public Health England (PHE) is investigating an outbreak of the food-borne bacterium E. coli which it says "may be associated with eating mixed salad leaves".

Image: mike_mc (CC BY 2.0)
Image: mike_mc (CC BY 2.0)

As of Monday 4 July, 109 cases of the E. coli O157 outbreak have been identified, chiefly in the south-west of England. PHE has said several of those affected ate mixed salad leaves including rocket leaves prior to becoming unwell.

But the source of the outbreak is not confirmed and remains under investigation. PHE is now reminding people to maintain good hygiene and food preparation practices in response to the current outbreak.

E. coli O157 infection can cause a range of symptoms from mild diarrhoea to bloody diarrhoea with severe abdominal pain. It can be caught by eating contaminated food or by direct contact with infected animals, or from another infected person if hand and toilet hygiene is poor.

PHE field epidemiology service director Dr Isabel Oliver said: "PHE has put in place heightened surveillance for this strain of E. coli and is carefully monitoring the reporting of cases across the entire country. To assist with this investigation to help us find the source, we have convened a national outbreak control team who will also ensure all necessary control measures are put in place."

She added: "At this stage we are not ruling out other food items as a potential source."

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