Guildford E.coli investigation: Source of rare infection ‘still unknown’ as second case formally confirmed

November 14, 2017
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A second case of a rare strain of E.coli, which led a Guildford woman to suffer multiple organ failures, has been confirmed in Surrey.

The 19-year-old and her sister first fell ill within hours of each other on September 16.

The elder of the two sisters, aged 22, recovered after a few days suffering diarrhoea and abdominal pain but her younger sister was rushed to Royal Surrey County Hospital on September 24.

While there, she suffered kidney failure, which later developed into a blood disease called hemolytic-uremic syndrome.

This led to several of her other organs failing, including her heart. She remained “critical” in hospital at the start of the month.

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E.coli in Surrey

Public Health England (PHE) had previously confirmed the younger sister contracted E.coli O55 and on Monday (November 13), it confirmed a second case had now been formally diagnosed.

Escherichia coli, also known as E.coli, is a type of bacteria common in human and animal intestines.

According to the NHS, there are many different types of E.coli and the majority are “harmless”.

The 19-year-old woman was treated at Royal Surrey County Hospital

However, PHE has confirmed two people in Surrey have contracted E.coli O55, a rare strain last in the public eye when 31 people contracted it during an outbreak in Dorset between July 2014 and November 2015.

In response to the two Surrey cases, PHE has warned residents to pay extra attention to “hand hygiene” in particular.

Hand hygiene ‘vital’

Rachel Cloke, public health consultant for PHE south east, said: “E.coli is a relatively common bug in Britain.

“The best form of defence is to make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, or if you have been in contact with any animal or their faeces.

“The E.coli bug can live in the surrounding environment so if you have been out enjoying the countryside make sure you wash your hands when you get home.”

Public Health England has said hand washing is ‘vital’ to controlling E.coli
(Image: PA)

She added: “One of the best ways to prevent infection is to ensure you properly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, or if you have been in close contact with any animal, including farm animals, zoos, riding schools or clearing up after family pets.

“It is vital to wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water rather than using hand gels as these do not remove all traces of the bug.

“Small children should always be supervised when washing their hands.”

PHE also confirmed it had not yet identified a link between the two cases which would suggest a potential source of the infection.

“We continue to work closely with partners from local environmental health teams to investigate the circumstances around each case to identify potential links and carry out further checks,” said Ms Cloke.

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Keeping children safe

She continued: “We are doing everything we can to prevent further cases and remain extremely vigilant in terms of monitoring local illnesses for signs of further cases.

“We have alerted local GPs to be aware of symptoms and share information with us should they suspect a case. We urge anyone who believes they may have symptoms to consult their GP.

“We’d like to remind parents to keep their children off school if they have any diarrhoeal illness. They will require testing of their stools and laboratory clearance if there is a possibility they may have E.coli.”

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Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/guildford-ecoli-investigation-source-rare-13899544


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