E Coli 0157 Claims
Jill Greenfield is one of the few lawyers in the UK who has a real depth of experience in cases involving exposure to E Coli 0157. Exposure to this type of bacteria can be devastating to young children and the elderly. The bacteria can kill.
She has worked with many of the leaders in the field including Lothar Beutin of Berlin, one of the world's leading experts in E Coli 0157. As a result of her experience she spoke to members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Health and campaigns for better awareness of the dangers of E Coli 0157.
Fieldfisher is currently dealing with the 2014 Huntley's Country Stores outbreak and in the past dealt with the 2009 Godstone farm outbreak. A number of the children exposed suffered renal failure and are at risk of serious health conditions in the future.
Jill also dealt with a claim on behalf of a young boy who suffered serious brain damage following a trip to an open farm. A multi million pound settlement was agreed to pay for his care and housing.
What is E Coli 0157?
E Coli 0157 is a deadly bacteria which is now a notifiable disease, since the Griffin Inquiry which followed the Godstone farm outbreak. As a result of that cluster outbreaks are more readily recognised by those treating victims and this can lead to better recovery rates. Whilst E Coli is difficult to treat, the administration of antibiotics can do more harm than good and it is important for the clinicians to know what they are dealing with.
Not all E Coli is dangerous. We carry it in our gut. There are however a few strains that are extremely dangerous in particular to the young and the elderly. E Coli 0157 was named as the culprit in the recent outbreak in Northern Ireland where over 200 people are thought to have been infected at one restaurant. Whether you catch it at a farm or from food, the consequences are potentially very severe. The bacteria has to be ingested but the number of bacteria that you need to ingest to become ill is tiny compared to the number of salmonella bacteria that you need to ingest.
The dreadful events in the German outbreak left no one with any illusions about how deadly this bacteria is. Many died and others suffered renal failure.
If you or a member of your family has been affected by an outbreak of E Coli 0157 (Escherichia Coli infection 0157) our specialist personal injury solicitors can help you pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.
Read the latest coverage in relation to the Huntley's Country Store's outbreak.
Read the coverage of the Godstone Farm case
- The Telegraph - Godstone Farm 'will not dispute liability' over E Coli outbreakA petting farm at the centre of Britain's worst E-coli outbreak faces paying out millions of pounds in damages after it accepted blame for infecting almost 100 people. Read more
- ITV.com - E-coli FarmThe petting farm at the centre of an E-coli outbreak, which left several children seriously ill, will not be disputing liability in the legal case against it.
The 10 things you need to know about E Coli 0157
What is E Coli?
Escherichia Coli is a common bacteria which we all need in our bodies to help us absorb vitamin K (the blood-clotting vitamin) and break down cellulose (also known as dietary fibre or roughage). It is often found in the gut of both humans and animals. It can live on surfaces such as metal and can be difficult to detect. Most E Coli is harmless, however, there are certain strains, such as E Coli 0157, that are dangerous and can be potentially life threatening for young children (particularly those under the age of five) or the elderly.
How is the 0157 strain different?
0157 is a mutant form of E Coli which lives in the intestines of some cattle, sheep and goats but is not found in the intestines of humans. It produces toxins which can be potentially fatal when ingested in very small amounts. To put this into perspective, it could take up to one million salmonella organisms to be ingested before symptoms could present themselves, whereas it could take as little as 10 E coli 0157 organisms for similar symptoms to arise.
How is E Coli 0157 passed on?
E Coli 0157 is transferred through faecal material and needs to be ingested, so good hygiene is essential although hygiene measures may not be enough. The main source is cattle, with water being key vehicle for the organism, if polluted with manure. 0157 can also live on metal, wood or on the ground for many months.
The first 0157 strain was identified in 1982 and the number of cases have risen significantly over the years. Some of the proven carriers include eating uncooked beef burgers and drinking unpasteurised milk or even drinking cider that was made from apples contaminated by cow manure. However more recently environmental causes have been blamed, including touching infected animals or playing in fields once occupied by cattle or sheep.
Is E Coli 0157 contagious?
Yes, E Coli 0157 is very contagious as the number of bacteria that you need to be exposed to is very small. The bacteria can be readily spread from person to person, particularly amongst families, child care/nursery facilities and elderly residential and day care centres.
What are the symptoms?
Generally, E Coli 0157 will lead to symptoms similar to salmonella, the food poisoning infection, where vomiting, severe abdominal pain, sickness and diarrhoea (often bloody) will be evident.
In some of the worst seen cases E Coli 0157 produces toxins which can lead to Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) which can cause Renal Failure potentially leading to brain damage or death. Some people, particularly the elderly, may develop thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) which can sometimes result in diseases such as encephalitis, psychosis, comas or seizures.
What is Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome?
Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) is a rare kidney disorder that mostly affects children under the age of 10. It destroys red blood cells and the lining of blood vessels and is often caused by E Coli 0157 bacteria. People with HUS may get acute renal failure or lose the ability for blood to clot.
Acute renal failure is when the kidneys suddenly stop working, although it is possible for the kidneys to recover from almost complete loss of function.
What should I do if I think my child or relative has E Coli 0157?
Consult your GP/A&E department straight away. Do not use over-the-counter medicines as some have shown to increase the chances of E Coli 0157 developing into HUS. Antibiotics are generally not prescribed either as these also have been proven to have detrimental effects, however your GP is best placed to prescribe whatever form of treatment is best for the specific level of infection.
What is the treatment for E Coli 0157?
The treatment will depend on how severe the symptoms are and whether it is a cystitis or intestine infection. If it is a cystitis infection it would usually clear up by itself after two to four days although a short course of antibiotics may be given. Antibiotics are generally not prescribed for Intestine infections.
Sickness and diarrhoea symptoms dehydrate the body and it is important to drink plenty of fluids. This is especially helpful for children with diarrhoea, as the additional fluids will also replace other important substances lost from the body, including sodium, potassium and glucose.
In serious cases, hospital admissions will be needed and there is a possibility of blood transfusions and dialysis for renal failure.
Where can I find more information?
The best sources of information can be found on the following links:
- NHS Choices: Facts about E Coli
- HUSH: Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome Help
- HPA: Health Protection Authority
Am I entitled to make a claim for compensation?
Contact us on freephone 0800 358 3848
Or start your claim online.
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