Scotland investigating 10 E.coli O157 illnesses

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Scotland investigating E.coli cases linked to venison
Scotland investigating E.coli cases linked to venison

Related tags E. coli Escherichia coli o157:h7 Escherichia coli

E.coli O157 has sickened 10 people in Scotland with a link to raw venison products produced by Highland Game.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) said nine patients are recovering at home and one is being treated in hospital.

All cases ate venison within the product use-by-dates identified by Food Standards Scotland (FSS). These products had use-by dates from 4 September to 1 October and are no longer on sale.

FSS warned consumers may have products in their freezers at home. They should not present a risk to health if they are handled and cooked properly, it added.

Use-by dates were from 4 - 28 September for the sausages, meatballs and grillsteaks, and 4 September to 1 October for venison steaks.

Possible future cases

Dr Syed Ahmed, consultant in Health Protection and clinical director at HPS said: “It can take up to fourteen days for someone to display symptoms following consumption of contaminated food products.

“Therefore it is not unusual for some cases to be identified after control measures have been taken. What is encouraging is that this additional case consumed products from the same time frame as the previous cases.”

HPS is investigating the cases of the same strain of E. coli O157 PT32 with local health protection teams, FSS and the Scottish E. coli O157/VTEC Reference Laboratory (SERL).

Investigations established cases have consumed venison products purchased raw from various shopping outlets and cooked at home. 

HPS cooking advice

Dr Ahmed said it is important all deer meat should be cooked thoroughly and not be eaten medium or rare.

“The risk of E. coli​ O157 infection can be reduced by careful hand washing, especially after contact with animals, handling raw meats, after going to the toilet and immediately before preparing or eating food and by making sure that food is always properly prepared.”

Highland Game was established in 1997 by Danish entrepreneur Christian Nissen and his wife Ingela, who acquired a venison production unit from a poultry and game dealer in Dundee.

The incubation period for E. coli O157 is usually three to four days (range 1 to 14 days). Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhoea (often bloody), vomiting and fever.

In 2012, 236 E.coli O157 cases were reported to HPS, of which 234 were culture positive.

This represented a decrease of 19 (8%) compared to 253 cases in 2011. It was also the second lowest annual total for the last five years, and was one case below the five year average (235 per annum).

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