Warning issued after outbreak of E coli hits Horsham

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A warning is being issued following an outbreak of E coli in Horsham.

The outbreak is thought to be linked to a current national wave of the potentially serious illness which can lead to kidney failure in children.

Horsham District Council says the UK Health Security Agency have been investigating the spread of a Shiga toxin-producing E coli infection across the UK and believe the outbreak to be connected to a common source, which is likely contaminated food, but this is yet to be confirmed.

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More than 40 cases have been identified nationally since February, with around 100 more being treated as probably linked to the outbreak, with two suspected cases reported in the Horsham district which are being investigated by council environmental health officers.

A warning is being issued following an outbreak of E coli in HorshamA warning is being issued following an outbreak of E coli in Horsham
A warning is being issued following an outbreak of E coli in Horsham

A spokesperson for the environmental team said that E coli can “cause serious illness in most people, especially the elderly and immunocompromised individuals, but it is particularly dangerous in young children who are at risk of developing a life-threatening disease called ‘HUS’ – or haemolytic uraemic syndrome – which results in kidney failure.”

The bacteria that causes E coli is found in the general environment, especially in areas that may have been exposed to animal faeces such as fields used for grazing.

Direct contact with animals that are infected, such as at petting farms, is also a significant source of infection, as is eating contaminated food and water.

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The spokesperson said that symptoms of infection include stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhoea, including bloody diarrhoea. "Most people will make a full recovery, although these symptoms can last around two weeks if there are no complications, such as HUS.”

Signs of the life-changing condition developing during infection include urinating less-often or not at all, or finding blood in the urine; losing pink colour in the cheeks or inside of eyelids; unexplained bruising or tiny red spots on the skin; and feeling very tired with decreased awareness.

The spokesperson said: “If your child shows any of the symptoms of HUS following gastrointestinal illness then it is critical medical attention is sought as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone suffering from an illness that may be linked to E coli should contact their GP or call NHS 111 for advice.