E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

Wet Weather Causes Rise in E.coli

11th August 2004

The past few weeks have seen an increase in the number of cases of E.coli O157 throughout the country.

Official figures published by the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health (SCIEH) show that almost half of this years cases have occurred within the past six weeks. They believe that the outbreak is linked to the bad weather which has resulted in Scotland enduring one of its wettest summers in the past 50 years.

Heavy rainfall in areas where livestock have been grazing means that sheep and cow dung mixes with the water and is spread widely around a field. Microscopic amounts of the bacteria are then deposited on grass, meaning that a person who touches the grass or who even adjusts their boots after having been in an affected field will have the bacteria on their hands. Footwear can also spread contamination into buildings, tents and vehicles, while fences, gates, stiles, seating and play areas can also easily become contaminated. The organism is known to survive in soil and animal droppings for weeks, though the levels do generally decline over time.

In addition, the heavy rainfall also means that some E.coli can enter the water supply, especially through local streams and small rural water supplies.

Professor Bill Reilly of SCIEH said, The hypothesis we are working with is that the current increase in the number of incidents is linked to the bad weather. We are warning people who are holidaying in the countryside to take care before eating anything, because of the risk their hands could be carrying the infection. They should wash their hands properly with water before eating and make sure their children wash their hands even before eating something like a bag of crisps. He added that cleaning wipes and anti-bacterial gels were acceptable as second choices if soap and water were not available.

HUSHs Co-ordinator, Ishbel Mackinnon, had personal experience of this type of contamination when her son Jamie became infected at a Scout Camp in Aberdeenshire during May 2000. Twenty children were ill with diarrhoea and stomach cramps due to E.coli O157 and one developed Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) that necessitated treatment in a Glasgow hospital for several weeks. The source of infection was traced to sheep faeces and soil after sheep had grazed the site prior to the Scout camp.

1 of 46
Next > Last >>

1st February 2024

A recent news article in the Environmental Health News indicates the concerns the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have over UK food safety being at risk, due to lack of staff. Food safety allocated posts supporte... on
2nd January 2024

On the 29th December 2023 the FSA stated on their website “Chiltern Artisan recalls Chilli Sticks because of contamination with E. Coli. Chiltern Artisan has taken the precautionary step of recalling Chiltern Artisan Chilli Sticks because E. Coli has been fo... on
28th December 2023

Amy Douglas, Incident Director for Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety Division at UKHSA, said: "There have been at least 30 confirmed cases of this specific outbreak strain of STEC in the UK." - Link below. ... on
25th December 2023

The recall for Route des Terroirs is recalling Morbier Maison Monts & Terroirs Chalet De Vevy Raw Cows’ Milk Cheese because Shiga toxin-producing E.coli has been found in some batches of this product. This recall was announced today 25/12/2023. ... on
6th December 2023

Information Rights Team ... on
1 of 46
Next > Last >>

Designed by Robert Woods. View our Cookie & Privacy Policy