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01 Oct 2022

Hospitalisations confirmed following 'noticeable increase' in VTEC cases in the Mid West

Hospitalisations confirmed following 'noticeable increase' in VTEC cases in the Mid West

There have been more than 20 cases of Verotoxigenic E. Coli in the Mid West over the past month | FILE PHOTO

A WARNING has been issued by public health expert following a noticeable increase in Verotoxigenic E. Coli (VTEC) cases and outbreaks across the Mid West.

VTEC is a bacteria that can cause stomach pains and diarrhoea and in severe cases can cause a serious condition leading to kidney failure.

In response to the recent increase in cases, The Department of Public Health Mid-West is reiterating the importance of the effective treatment of private water wells and the proper washing of hands.

"The best way people can protect themselves is by treating private wells, handwashing with warm water and soap on, or near any farm settings or animals, before food preparation and eating, and after using the toilet or changing nappies," said a spokesperson.

According to the Department of Public Health Mid West, more than 20 cases of VTEC have been reported across the region over the past month. A number of people have been hospitalised.

Multidisciplinary public health teams have managed and investigated outbreaks and cases in households and in rural settings, particularly on or near farms, and sites with access to a private well supply.

Dr Mai Mannix, Area Director for Public Health Mid-West, said it is not unusual to see an increase in VTEC cases during the warm period but that many infections can be preventable.

"While it can last in the human system for a number of days, it can take weeks—sometimes months—to clear the infection. Not only can it cause severe illness, there can be a wider, disruptive burden associated with the disease to individuals, households, and sometimes businesses.”

In each case, the sources of infection is under investigation.

In more severe instances, VTEC can cause a condition known as Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which results in the breakdown of red blood cells and kidney failure.

A small number of HUS cases have been confirmed across the Mid West.

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