Evidence of on-going transmission of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 following a foodborne outbreak

Saira Butt, Alison Smith-Palmer, Allan Shand, Eisin McDonald, Lesley Allison, Jane Maund, Anand Fernandes, Bhavita Vishram, David R. Greig, Claire Jenkins, Richard Elson

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Abstract

In August 2019, public health surveillance systems in Scotland and England identified seven, geographically dispersed cases infected with the same strain (defined as isolates that fell within the same five single nucleotide polymorphism single linage cluster) of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7. Epidemiological analysis of enhanced surveillance questionnaire data identified handling raw beef and shopping from the same national retailer (retailer A) as the common exposure. Concurrently, a microbiological survey of minced beef at retail identified the same strain in a sample of minced beef sold by retailer A, providing microbiological evidence of the link. Between September and November 2019, a further four primary and two secondary cases infected with the same strain were identified; two cases developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome. None of the four primary cases reported consumption of beef from retailer A and the transmission route of these subsequent cases was not identified, although all four primary cases visited the same petting farm. Generally, outbreaks of STEC O157:H7 in the UK appear to be distinct, short-lived events; however, on-going transmission linked to contaminated food, animals or environmental exposures and person-to-person contact do occur. Although outbreaks of STEC caused by contaminated fresh produce are increasingly common, undercooked meat products remain a risk of infection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere147
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Volume149
Early online date7 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Adolescent Adult Animals Cattle Child Child, Preschool DNA, Bacterial/genetics *Disease Outbreaks England/epidemiology Epidemiological Monitoring Escherichia coli Infections/epidemiology/*microbiology/*transmission Escherichia coli O157/classification/genetics/*isolation & purification Female Food Microbiology Foodborne Diseases/epidemiology/*microbiology Humans Infant Male Middle Aged Molecular Epidemiology Phylogeny Red Meat/microbiology Scotland/epidemiology Young Adult Food-borne zoonoses Shiga-like toxin-producing E. coli public health microbiology surveillance

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