A WARNING has been issued after an E-coli outbreak was reported at a Limerick childcare facility.
Public Health Mid-West has moved to highlight the importance of effective hand hygiene and well water treatment this summer.
It comes as Verotoxigenic E-coli (VTEC) was reported.
This is a strong strain of the E-coli bacterium that can cause serious illness in children aged under five, and the elderly.
The department says the outbreak is under control, and assured the public this will not impact the department’s work in managing the Covid-19 pandemic or any other infectious disease in the region.
However, VTEC outbreaks and clusters are most likely to occur at this time of year due to increased activity that can expose individuals to infection and further transmission.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of VTEC in Europe, and the Mid-West region has one of the highest rates of the disease in the country, the department states.
VTEC can be a source of gastro-enteritis and can produce a toxin that can cause inflammation of the bowel which can lead to severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can last between two to nine days. Other people may experience very mild or no symptoms at all.
The most common ways to be infected with VTEC are through contact with farm animals (including those in pet and open farms), swimming in fresh waterbodies such as streams and lakes, drinking untreated water from private wells, person to person contact in creches or households where there are children under five years of age, and through food and drinks that are contaminated with tiny amounts of faecal matter.
Dr Rose Fitzgerald, specialist in public health medicine, said: “We are asking the public to be conscious of their activities throughout the summer period, particularly in relation to hand hygiene, drinking treated water, swimming in potentially contaminated fresh waters, and being on farms. We are more likely to encounter cases and outbreaks over the summer period, so we urge people to exercise caution."
“It is a serious disease that can cause life-changing illness, and while it can last in the system for as short as a week, it can sometimes take several months to clear the infection. Anyone who is infected, or is a close contact of a case requires clearance from a public health doctor to attend healthcare, childcare or work that involves food-handling,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
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