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.
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- Food-borne zoonoses
- molecular epidemiology
- public health microbiology
- Shiga-like toxin-producing E
- HEMOLYTIC-UREMIC SYNDROME