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E. coli Outbreak Investigated In Dorset


11:35am 27th November 2014
(Updated 12:01pm 27th November 2014)

An investigation's been launched into a number of cases of illness in Dorset caused by a rare strain of the E. coli bacteria.

Public health England is leading on the investigation of this cluster of illnesses caused by the bacteria called Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli 055 (VTEC 055).

Since July - 10 people have been diagnosed, 7 of them have developed kidney problems - called haemolytic uraemic syndrome - a serious complication of an E. coli infection.

There have been no deaths.

Some of the cases have been associated with Blandford Children's Centre.

Letters have been sent to parents and children and staff have been routinely screened as a precautionary measure.
Noëleen McFarland, Consultant in Health Protection at PHE Wessex, said:

"We are working closely with colleagues in the North Dorset Environmental Health Department to identify possible sources of infection. It is an infection that can be passed easily from person to person and young children are particularly easily affected.
"Any infection with E. coli can be very serious. We have interviewed all of those affected or their parents and their close contacts to look for possible causes in the days before they became ill.  This information is being used in the ongoing investigation into these cases.
"We want to stress the importance of good hand hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water after using the toilet, before and after handling food and after contact with animals including farm animals.  Small children should be supervised in washing their hands. Remove any loose soil before storing vegetables and thoroughly wash all vegetables and fruit that will be eaten raw."

Vanessa Glenn, head of family support at Dorset County Council, said:

“A child attending Blandford Children’s Centre nursery, in Black Lane, was diagnosed with E coli in mid-October. In line with advice from local environmental health officers, we closed the nursery for three days while deep cleaning work was carried out.

“Shortly after this, there was a second case involving a child from Blandford who had also attended the Shaftesbury Children’s Centre activity room. Again, following environmental health advice, this room was deep cleaned. We also ordered a deep clean of the nursery at Shaftesbury Children’s Centre, as a precaution.

“On Monday (24 November), a third case of E coli (VTEC 055) was identified involving a child who attends the Blandford Children’s Centre nursery. While there is no indication of a direct link between the nursery and recent cases, we are working closely with Public Health England and local authority environmental health officers to help tackle the problem. We are co-ordinating the collection of stool samples from all children who attend the nursery, as well as staff. Our staff have also undergone blood tests.

“We have decided voluntarily to close the Blandford nursery until we know the results of these tests. The safety and welfare of our children is of paramount importance. Parents have been kept fully informed throughout this process, and are being advised of the closure.”


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