A recent E. coli outbreak associated with artisanal cheeses has resulted in one fatality and 11 hospitalisations. The public is advised to verify if their cheeses, particularly those acquired during Christmas, are subject to a precautionary recall due to the risk of E. coli contamination.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified 30 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (Stec) in England and Scotland, affecting individuals aged 7 to 81. Notably, there has been a rise in cases since June, with a surge in December. Tragically, one person in Scotland has succumbed to the infection.
Due to potential contamination, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) initiated a recall of five products from Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese, starting on Christmas Eve. Graham Kirkham of Mrs Kirkham's dairy farm in Preston cited a novel variant of the bacteria as the cause, noting that eight confirmed cases were linked to their cheese.
The UKHSA continues its investigation into the outbreak, examining connections to the recalled cheeses. Mrs Kirkham's, a prominent British dairy, has proactively recalled all products sold since October. Despite thorough testing in line with industry best practices, the dairy acknowledged that the risk was not previously detected.
Symptoms of Stec infection range from mild to severe, including abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea. In some cases, it can lead to a serious condition known as haemolytic uremic syndrome, potentially causing kidney failure and death.
Consumers who have purchased or received the affected cheeses, including those in Christmas hampers, are urged to heed the recall advice. The UKHSA and FSA continue to monitor the situation closely.
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