During the summer of 1994, four cases of bloody diarrhoea and/or haemolytic uraemic syndrome were reported to the consultants in communicable disease control in Nottingham and Leicester. One case was an adult, and there were three children aged 2 to 4 years. The initial investigation failed to reveal any common foodstuff as the cause of the outbreak, but all four cases had attended a farm visitor centre in Leicestershire in the three weeks before they became ill. A further three cases were found who had visited the same farm. A joint investigation took place with environmental health officers and the local veterinary investigation centre of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. A questionnaire designed to ascertain possible sources of infection was sent to all cases. Several of the animals on the farm were sampled for Escherichia coli O157 and the farm's facilities for food preparation and hygiene were assessed. The pattern of infection did not suggest a point source for the outbreak. Analysis of responses to the questionnaires failed to reveal any common factor other than the visit to the farm, and all but one case remembered stroking and feeding the animals. Food preparation in the farm restaurant appeared to be satisfactory and there was no evidence of contamination of food with pathogenic bacteria. E. coli O157: H7, PT2, VT2 was isolated from four of the seven human cases and also from four cattle and six goats. Further analysis using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) showed that the four human strains were indistinguishable from nine of the 10 animal strains. It was concluded that the most likely cause of this outbreak was direct contact with the animals. This was further supported by poor handwashing facilities and lack of information for the visitors on the importance of personal hygiene.
|Journal||Communicable disease report. CDR review|
|Publication status||Published - 26 May 1995|