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18 June 2010, 05:58 | Updated: 18 June 2010, 07:24
Parents are being reminded to make sure their children wash their hands properly after three cases of E.coli were confirmed in Kent and Sussex.
Heart's been told the three children who have been infected are all members of the same family who have mixed socially on several occasions in recent weeks, including family barbecues and picnics in the countryside.
The response is being led by Kent Health Protection Unit (HPU) because the first case lives in Kent. Unit Director, Dr Mathi Chandrakumar, said: “We are raising awareness of E.coli O157 infection especially as at this time of year people attend more barbecues and picnics in the countryside. It is an infection that can be passed easily from person to person and young children are especially vulnerable to it and to complications which can arise from it.
“We want to stress the importance of good hand hygiene in families where there is any diarrhoea illness. Adults should ensure they supervise children’s handwashing - especially before eating and when visiting parkland or countryside picnic areas where there is a possibility that areas may have been contaminated with animal faeces.”
E.coli O157 bacteria usually cause diarrhoea which settles within seven days without treatment. Occasionally (in about 5% of cases), serious kidney and blood complications can occur.
As a routine precaution, letters informing parents about E.coli O157 have been sent out to schools in both areas and to GPs, alerting them to the diagnosis and asking they report any diarrhoea symptoms.
How to avoid getting E.coli (from the Health Protection Agency)