E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

Belfast restaurant at the centre of a 'major public health crisis'

18th October 2012

An E.coli outbreak linked to a Belfast restaurant has been classified as a major public health crisis, following 20 confirmed cases and a further 150 cases of suspected food poisoning. The Public Health Agency has said this number could rise within days as the incubation period for E.coli is typically up to seven days. It would, therefore, expect to see a further increase as people continue to report symptoms and submit samples for testing.

Among those suffering symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains were 8 children under the age of 14, the agency said.

The E.coli outbreak centres on Flicks restaurant, at the Cityside Mall and it has emerged that there was a separate E.coli outbreak at the same restaurant in August when 4 people were found to have E.coli O157. Investigations at the time were clear and the practices at the restaurant were found to be satisfactory.

The premises closed voluntarily on 11th October, two days after the first case was discovered, and management are cooperating with the investigation.

The Agency's consultant on health protection, Dr Michael Devine said: "We are dealing with a major public health crisis with these cases and we must ensure that we prevent any preventable cases. There will be a review, there will be an investigation, there will be analysis of the results and if any link to the August cases is established then that will have to be looked into."

The Agency has urged anyone who ate at the restaurant since 24th September and has symptoms of diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain to contact their GP urgently.

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