Food Law News - UK - 2007

National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) News Item, 11 September 2007

HYGIENE - Report published on the Welsh 2005 E.coli O157 Outbreak

The Report of the Outbreak Control Team into the outbreak of E.coli O157 in South Wales in the autumn of 2005 has been published.

The report was completed in June 2006 but publication was delayed pending legal proceedings involving the local meat supplier at the centre of the outbreak.

Legal proceedings ended on Friday 7 September in Cardiff .

In September 2005, the largest E. coli O157 outbreak ever seen in Wales occurred. There were 157 cases meeting the case definition of which 118 were microbiologically confirmed. 109 of these confirmed cases were of phage type 21/28 and of a strain unique to this outbreak. Primary cases were mostly amongst schoolchildren attending 44 schools in Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf, although there were also three cases in the Vale of Glamorgan.

31 cases were hospitalised, 11 of which were transferred to tertiary hospitals, and one child died.

An Outbreak Control Team (OCT) was convened and a number of investigations were carried out to identify the cause of the outbreak. From the results (which are detailed in this report), the OCT concluded that cooked sliced meats supplied to the school meals service were the source for the transmission of E. coli O157 to primary cases in the four main Local Authority areas affected.

Control measures were successful in rapidly terminating the presentation of primary cases connected with schools outbreak, but secondary household cases continued to present in October. 50% of all cases excreted the organism for between 5 and 32 days. Some cases continued to excrete E. coli O157 for prolonged periods, the longest being 80 days. The outbreak was declared over on December 20 2005.

During November 2005, 16 cases of E. coli O157 infection occurred associated with Abercynon Infants School in Rhondda Cynon Taf. After exhaustive investigation, these were declared a separate outbreak not connected with the main outbreak. However, as the investigative and geographical context was the same in both outbreaks, the Abercynon outbreak report is nested within this document.

The full report is available to download from the following link:

More information about E. coli O157 is available from this website from the link:

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