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Teesside butcher at centre of E. coli outbreak investigation

A butchers in Tessside is at the centre of an investigation by the authorities into a suspected outbreak of E. coli 0157. A warning has been issued by Public Health England for members of the public not to eat any pre-cooked meats and savouries from Robinsons butchers in Wingate and Billingham.

PHE say that there are now seven confirmed cases and one suspected case. The butchers is carrying out a deep clean of the premises and re-training on health and safety in an effort to stamp out the spread of E. coli.

E Coli 0157 can cause devastating damage to the young and the elderly. One of the biggest outbreaks in the UK involved a number of young children who had visited a farm. Very many of those were hospitalised and required renal dialysis. A significant proportion of the children most seriously affected remain at risk of future renal failure. Whilst we were able to settle their cases recently, a number have the ability to be reopened later on should they ever suffer renal failure

This strain of E coli is not the same that we carry in our gut. E coli 0157 it is found in the gut of animals and can be passed to humans either through touching infected animals or through it being passed down the food chain. E Coli 0157 has to be ingested, hand to mouth.

The bacteria works by producing toxins. Only a very small amount is needed to cause serious harm, as little as 10 organisms. It is a particularly resistant bacteria and can live on metal and wood for long periods. One of the major causes of spreading E coli 0157 is the spread amongst families where it can be difficult to put in place effective hygiene measures.

If you have been affected by this story please contact Jill Greenfield.