A community outbreak of Vero cytotoxin producing Escherichia coli O157 infection linked to a small farm dairy

Clark, A, Morton, Stephen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7122-0201, Wright, P, Corkish, J, Bolton, FJ and Russell, J (1997) A community outbreak of Vero cytotoxin producing Escherichia coli O157 infection linked to a small farm dairy. Communicable Disease Report CDR Review, 7 (13). R206-R211. ISSN 1350-9349

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Official URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9447786


A community outbreak of infection with Vero cytotoxin producing Escherichia coli O157 (VTEC 0157) occurred in a small area of north west England in 1996. An outbreak control team was established to investigate the outbreak and implement control measures. Nine people developed symptomatic infections with VTEC O157, and a further three were found to be excreting the bacteria. All were infected with the same genotype of VTEC O157. Three children under 5 years of age and one adult were admitted to hospital. One child developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome. All cases recovered. All primary cases had consumed milk from a particular farm dairy. No other common foods were identified. The farm dairy had a faulty pasteuriser and the potential for post pasteurisation contamination existed. VTEC O157 was isolated from a milk sock specimen and from two cows, but these strains differed from that infecting the cases. All local doctors and the public were alerted and advised about preventative measures. Distribution of unpasteurised milk from the farm was discontinued as was the sale of pasteurised milk when the faulty pasteuriser was discovered. A replacement pasteuriser was installed and checked before milk was released for human consumption. No conclusive evidence of the origin of this outbreak was found, but the farm was the most probable source. The investigations raised concerns about the distribution of VTEC O157 colonised dairy cattle, the natural history of such colonisation, the effectiveness of pasteurisation with respect to the elimination of VTEC O157, and the effectiveness of current legislation for the prevention and control of milkborne infection.

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