E.COLI O157. Patient Information Leaflet. Your Health. Our Priority. Microbiology Department Pathology Laboratory

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1 E.COLI O157 Patient Information Leaflet Your Health. Our Priority.

2 Page 2 of 5 What is E coli? E coli are bacteria which live in the gut of humans and animals. Usually they cause no harm but some strains can cause diarrhoea, which usually only lasts for a few days. Many cases of travellers diarrhoea are caused by E-coli. A few strains of E-coli can produce toxins (poisons) that lead to more serious illness and complications in other parts of the body. What is E coli 0157 and where does it come from? The main source of E coli 0157 is cattle, and the bacteria can spread to humans via contaminated meat, and less frequently, dairy products. This strain of E coli can cause diarrhoea ranging from mild diarrhoea of short duration to severe bloody diarrhoea with fever, abdominal pain and lack of energy. Severe complications can include anaemia and kidney problems. Who can it affect? ANYONE - but the very young and the elderly are most vulnerable. What is the incubation period & how long will I be infectious? The incubation period (the period after exposure to the infection but before a person displays symptoms) ranges from 1 9 days. The infectious period (the period when the infection can be passed from person to person) for E coli 0157 is not clear, but it is known to be longer in young children (at least 3 weeks old). How do you prevent it? By thoroughly cooking all foods, especially red meat E coli 0157 is destroyed by cooking. Avoid contaminating cooked foods by allowing contact with raw meat or dirty knives and chopping boards. Only drink pasteurised milk and dairy products made with pasteurised milk. Do you need to stay off work or school? YES - until you have been free from any symptoms for 48 hours. Children should not play with other children or attend school until they are fully recovered and have been symptom free for 48 hours. Young children (pre-school and infants), and people in certain high-risk occupations such as food-handlers and health care workers, should not

3 Page 3 of 5 return until they have been given clearance to do so by the Environmental Health Officer. The Environmental Health Officer may require the affected child/person to provide specimens to ensure that the infection has completely cleared. What else should I do while I am ill? Hand washing is extremely important not only for the person with E coli 0157 but also for everyone in the household. Hands must be washed after using the toilet and before handling food. Young children should be supervised when washing hands, or have their hands washed for them. Each person affected should have their own towel. Ensure crockery and cutlery is washed in hot soapy water. Keep kitchen surfaces clean at all times and especially when preparing foods. Clean toilet seats, flush handles, door handles and taps every day with hot soapy water, and also when they are visibly soiled. Use your usual toilet cleaner and brush to clean the pan. When there is accidental soiling of clothes, wash them on a hot wash cycle. NB: If you are using a disinfectant, ensure that it conforms to a British Standard and follow the manufacturer s recommendations. Keep all chemical cleaning agents away from children. How do you stop the spread of E coli 0157? If you or a member of your household has E coli 0157: Clean the following after use with detergent and hot water, followed by a suitable disinfectant or bleach. - Toilet seat - Toilet bowl - Flush handles - Taps and wash hand basin If you use a disinfectant or bleach ensure it conforms to a British standard, follow the manufacturer s instructions and store it safely out of the reach of children. Ensure all household members wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after going to the toilet and after contact with excreta, soiled clothes and bedding and pets. Use a separate towel.

4 Page 4 of 5 Wash soiled clothes, bedding and towels on as hot a cycle as possible of the washing machine, and be careful to not overload the washing machine. Most strains of Escherichia coli form part of the normal intestinal microflora in humans and warm-blooded animals. However, some strains have the ability to cause disease in humans through the presence of specific virulence factors. This section of the website provides information on Vero cytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC*) which are gastrointestinal pathogens. For details on E. coli bacteraemias, please see the E. coli bacteraemia section. VTEC are a group of bacteria which cause illness in humans. The most important VTEC strain to cause illness in the UK is E. coli O157. Symptoms can range from mild gastroentiris to severe bloody diarrhoea, mostly without fever, through to two serious conditions known as haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TTP) that affect the blood, kidneys and in severe cases the central nervous system. VTEC are relatively rare as the cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales; however the disease can be fatal, particularly in infants, young children and the elderly. Transmission occurs through consumption of food or water that has become contaminated by faeces from infected animals, from direct or indirect contact with animals that carry VTEC, or from exposure to an environment contaminated with animals faeces, such as farms and similar premises with animals which are open to the public - see leaflet Avoiding infectious on farm visits. Infection is readily spread between family contacts, particularly those who may be caring for infected children, and in settings such as children s day nurseries. The Health Protection Agency is involved with confirming cases of VTEC infection, as well as monitoring cases, identifying outbreaks and providing advice for the control of VTEC infections. *VTEC refers to both Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli and Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli - they are the same. Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are synonymous with VTEC. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are a subgroup of these. For more information about E coli 0157 contact: Local Environmental Health Department (0161) Stepping Hill Infection Prevention Team (0161)

5 Page 5 of 5 If you would like this leaflet in a different format, for example, in large print, or on audiotape, or for people with learning disabilities, please contact: Patient and Customer Services, Poplar Suite, Stepping Hill Hospital. Tel: Our smoke free policy Smoking is not allowed anywhere on our sites. Please read our leaflet 'Policy on Smoke Free NHS Premises' to find out more. Leaflet number Intranet Office will supply Publication date October 2012 Review date September 2013 Department Microbiology Department Location Pathology Laboratory

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