Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is investigating 16 confirmed cases of the same strain of E. coli O157, which may be associated with eating blue cheese made from unpasteurised milk.
Initial investigations indicate that a number of these cases have consumed Dunsyre Blue, manufactured by Errington Cheese, at various locations across Scotland prior to becoming unwell. The cases developed symptoms between 2 and 15 July.
HPS has been working with Foods Standards Scotland (FSS), NHS boards and local authority environmental health teams to investigate and manage this outbreak. Errington Cheese is carrying out a voluntary recall of suspected batches.
Dr Syed Ahmed, Clinical Director at HPS, said: “The majority of cases have consumed Dunsyre Blue while eating out, but members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese between 18 May and 29 July, and still have the product in their fridges, should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it.
“Symptoms associated with E. coli O157 can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea (often bloody), vomiting and occasionally fever. Anyone developing symptoms, including bloody diarrhoea, or who is concerned about their symptoms, should contact their GP or telephone NHS 24 on 111 for advice.
“It is important to maintain good hand and food hygiene practices at all times as this reduces the risk of passing the infection to others.”
HPS will continue to work with FSS and other partners to monitor the situation.
Health Protection Scotland - Communications Team
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Tel: 0141 300 1117 or 07799 477037
Notes to Editor
People usually become unwell with E. coli O157 infection after eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the faeces from infected animals, or from contact with farm animals or their environments. E. coli is a common bacterium that can live harmlessly in the gut of animals and people. However, some types of E. coli bacteria, including E. coli O157 produce toxins that are harmful to people. These are known as verocytotoxin-producing E. coli or VTEC.
VTEC infection can be asymptomatic, or cause a spectrum of illness from mild non-bloody diarrhoea, through bloody diarrhoea and haemorrhagic colitis, to Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), and other presentations of Thrombotic Microangiopathy (TMA). Children and adults over 60 years old are more likely to develop VTEC-related complications than those in other age groups.
The incubation period for E. coli O157 is usually 3 to 4 days (range 1 to 14 days).
Symptoms associated with E. coli O157 include stomach cramps, diarrhoea (often bloody), vomiting and occasionally fever.
For more information on E. coli O157 see: www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/giz/e.coli0157.aspx
Laboratory testing has shown that these cases are not related to the current outbreak in England which is associated with eating mixed salad leaves.
There are 16 cases in total: 14 in Scotland across seven NHS Boards and 2 in England.
Two of the 16 patients are being treated in hospital, the rest are recovering at home.
More information on advice to consumers regarding these products can be found on the FSS website: www.foodstandards.gov.scot/news/errington-cheese-company-instigates-precautionary-recall-dunsyre-blue-cheese-it-may-contain-e
A further statement will be issued next week.