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Potentially Deadly E Coli Bacteria In Mid-West Region.

Verotoxigenic E. coli

The Irish Department of Public Health has confirmed that it is investigating circumstances behind an increase in cases of a potentially-deadly bacteria, known as Verotoxigenic Escherichia Coli (VTEC), in the Mid-West region. Ireland’s mid-west region covers three counties: Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare, latter area with a rising population of some 473,269 or about 10% of Ireland’s total population.

Data published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for 2022, confirm that there have been more than 20 identified Verotoxigenic E Coli cases in this Mid-West region in the weeks between July 31st to August 27th, same resulting in a number of patients having to be hospitalised.

Verotoxigenic Escherichia Coli, as well as causing severe stomach pains and diarrhoea, can bring about Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), resulting in the breakdown of human red blood cells or kidney failure.
A small number of Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome cases have already been confirmed.

The Department of Public Health warn that between 5% to 10% of Verotoxigenic Escherichia Coli cases, particularly in children under five and in elderly persons, will be become infected by Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome, often requiring kidney dialysis. Some 5% per cent of patients, who develop this serious condition, may also die.

Public Health teams are investigating outbreaks in certain households in rural settings, near farms, and on infected sites with access to private water supplies.

People are being advised to use warm water and soap to wash their hands after preparing and eating food; after toilet use or changing of children’s nappies, and or near farm settings/petting zoos etc. People should also wash raw vegetables before eating, and fully cook all meat; as farm animals can carry VTEC in their bowels and can pass this bacterium to humans from eating undercooked contaminated food and drink.

Verotoxigenic E Coli can also be spread by people infected; such as in household or childcare settings where there is nappy changing or shared toilet facilities.

Over the past 10 years, the Department of Public Health Mid-West has been notified of approximately 1,250 cases of Verotoxigenic E Coli in the Mid-West region, same area having one of the highest rates of E Coli in Ireland.

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