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A large Great Britain-wide outbreak of STEC O157 phage type 8 linked to handling of raw leeks and potatoes

  • N. LAUNDERS (a1), M. E. LOCKING (a2), M. HANSON (a3), G. WILLSHAW (a1), A. CHARLETT (a1), R. SALMON (a4), J. COWDEN (a2) and G. K. ADAK (a1)...

Summary

Between December 2010 and July 2011, 252 cases of STEC O157 PT8 stx1 + 2 infection were reported in England, Scotland and Wales. This was the largest outbreak of STEC reported in England and the second largest in the UK to date. Eighty cases were hospitalized, with two cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome and one death reported. Routine investigative data were used to generate a hypothesis but the subsequent case-control study was inconclusive. A second, more detailed, hypothesis generation exercise identified consumption or handling of vegetables as a potential mode of transmission. A second case-control study demonstrated that cases were more likely than controls to live in households whose members handled or prepared leeks bought unwrapped [odds ratio (OR) 40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·08-769·4], and potatoes bought in sacks (OR 13·13, 95% CI 1·19-145·3). This appears to be the first outbreak of STEC O157 infection linked to the handling of leeks.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence: N. Launders, Department of Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. (Email: naomi.launders@phe.gov.uk)

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