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Deadly bug continues to spread
[Posted: Thu 02/08/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Two adults and one more child have developed a potentially life-threatening complication of the VTEC E.Coli bug in the past month, according to latest figures from the HSE.
The number or VTEC cases has doubled so far this year and to date 16 people - 14 children and two adults - have developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) as a result of contracting VTEC.
The HSE says up to late July, there have been 232 VTEC cases reported. The VTEC bug, which can be contracted from contaminated food and water, normally causes fairly mild illness.
However, in up to 8% of cases it can cause haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure.
No deaths have as yet been reported from HUS linked to VTEC infection.
The current outbreak has in part been linked to contaminated private water supplies resulting from recent heavy rainfall, although it can also be contracted from contaminated meat products and vegetables, poor hygiene and contact with farms and farm stock.
The HSE recently confirmed that a number of childcare facilities around the country had been closed so far this year as a result of the current outbreak.
Meanwhile, the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), in a new update on the outbreak, says there has been a marked increase recently in strains of VTEC known to have a higher risk of causing HUS.
The HPSC said it is probable that these strains were undiagnosed in Ireland at present. Ireland has the highest VTEC rate in the EU, and this is believed to be due to the high numbers of livestock in the country.
The HPSC said the rise in VTEC-associated HUS cases had been particularly acute during June.
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