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Outbreak over but source remains unclear from Northern Ireland E.coli - PHA

By Joe Whitworth , 16-Nov-2012

PHA investigating source of E.coli outbreak linked to 300 cases

Northern Irish health officials are yet to reveal the source of an outbreak of E.coli O157 which affected 300 people.

In its latest update this week, The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Environmental Health Officers from Belfast City Council said they were satisfied that the outbreak linked to the Flicks restaurant in Cityside Mall, York Street, Belfast was now over.

As of 3pm on 14 November there were 138 confirmed cases and 163 probable cases, after revealing there were 137 confirmed cases and 164 probable cases in their 7 November update.

Investigations ongoing

The PHA said it “would not be appropriate” to comment on the potential source of the outbreak and revealed investigations were ongoing.

They added the investigations would focus around a number a factors including speaking to the people affected and investigating the restaurant.

The agency warned that a small number of cases may still be infectious and said it is important that everyone helps to prevent the spread of E. coli by washing their hands after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.

“However the investigation remains on going, and is a complex, evolving and detailed investigation with all aspects of the outbreak being examined thoroughly,” said the update.

“As such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on any potential cause of the outbreak, but as with all outbreaks, a full report will be made publicly available when the investigation and analysis is complete.”

The report is expected to be published sometime next year.

Previous case

The case came to light through enhanced monitoring at the restaurant after four cases of E.coli were discovered in August. The agency has since confirmed the outbreak strain is different than the one found previously.

PHA said further environmental health inspections were conducted and enhanced surveillance to monitor for cases was put in place.

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