E.coli O157

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E.coli O157 is a form of food poisoning caused by a particularly strong type of Escherichia coli bacteria which typically results in diarrhoea.

E.coli O157 is usually spread by:

  • handling raw meat, especially beef
  • eating undercooked meat or poultry or other contaminated food product
  • consuming untreated milk or dairy products.
  • swimming in or drinking un-chlorinated water
  • contact with animals, particularly on farms or in animal sanctuaries
  • close contact with another infected person

The illness can occur within 3–8 days of infection, but in most cases it’s 3–4 days.

  • Diarrhoea (sometimes with blood)
  • Headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

Symptoms normally persist for about a week. In young children, the elderly or people who are already unwell, E.coli O157 may be worse and there is a risk of complications such as kidney failure, so in these cases you should always see a doctor.

  • Wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before preparing meals or eating.
  • Young children with the infection should have their hands washed for them or be supervised.
  • Disinfect all areas in the toilet daily (including door handles).
    • Infected people should stay away from work until they have been free of symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours
    • If the infected person is in a high risk group e.g. is a food handler, nursery worker, nurse or carer for the elderly etc. they cannot return to work until they have been completely recovered for 48 hours. Sometimes clear faecal specimens (negative results) are required. Also, it may be necessary to temporarily exclude infected children from playgroups, nurseries, childminders or schools. An Officer from the department will inform you if exclusion is necessary and when you are able to resume activities
  • Your GP will be able to give you advice on treatment.
  • You should tell your place of work or in the case of children, the head teacher of the school to find out if exclusion is necessary and when you can return.
  • If you report your infection, the council’s investigating officer will give you a more general leaflet on infection control.
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