Wash Salad Leaves, Health Officials Warn

Wash Salad Leaves, Health Officials Warn

An E. coli outbreak has killed two people and infected more than 150 people in the UK.

According to the BBC, Public Health England says it is still working to establish the exact cause of the outbreak, but many of those struck down by the E. coli O157 bug had eaten pre-packed salad, including rocket leaves.

Dr Isabel Oliver, director of PHE's field epidemiology service, said:

"PHE has been working to establish the cause of the outbreak and has identified that several of the affected individuals ate mixed salad leaves including rocket leaves prior to becoming unwell. Currently, the source of the outbreak is not confirmed and remains under investigation; we are not ruling out other food items as a potential source."

The public is being warned to thoroughly wash mixed salad leaves before eating.

The BBC reports:

Public Health England says the strain involved is likely to be imported, possibly from the Mediterranean area.

To date, it has been informed of 151 cases - 144 people in England, six in Wales and one in Scotland.

Of these, 62 needed hospital care and two patients died.

Most of the cases of the outbreak in England were clustered in the South West.

According to food hygiene expert Sylvia Anderson, salad vegetables are one of the biggest causes of food poisoning. It's essential to wash your hands before handling food and to thoroughly wash vegetables and salads before eating, in order to avoid infection.

You can also immerse some foods in sterilisation fluid before eating. Milton recommends a three step approach:

  1. Wash the fruit/vegetables with clear water removing all visible dirt.

  2. Prepare a solution using just 1ml (20 drops) of Milton Fluid per litre of water and immerse food in solution for 15 minutes.

  3. Rinse with cold water

According to the NHS, symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and occasionally fever, and about half of people with the infection will have bloody diarrhoea.

"People usually notice symptoms three to four days after they have been infected, but symptoms can start any time between one and 14 days afterwards. These symptoms can last up to two weeks. A small number of people with E. coli O157 infection go on to develop a serious condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). This can sometimes lead to kidney failure and death, although this is rare. The risk of HUS is highest in children aged under five years. Some people become infected but don't develop symptoms."

You should contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible if you or your child has bloody diarrhoea.

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