Department of Public Health in Mid-West region investigating increase of E.Coli cases

The Department of Public Health Mid-West has revealed that there has been an increase in cases of E. Coli in the Mid-West region of the country, covering Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. 

Sharing the news on Twitter, they said, “We would like to emphasise the importance of the effective treatment of private well water and washing hands, following a noticeable increase in Verotoxigenic E. Coli (VTEC) cases and outbreaks in the region in recent weeks”.

The Public Health Mid-West department described the VTEC infection as “bacteria that can cause stomach pains and diarrhoea sometimes streaked with blood”.

VTEC can also lead to a condition called Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which can lead to the breakdown of red blood cells and can cause kidney failure. The department confirmed a small number of HUS cases have been found.

Approximately 5-10% of VTEC cases will suffer from HUS, with some needing dialysis, and more serious cases leading to death. This affects children under five and the elderly in particular. 

Symptoms can occur due to drinking contaminated well water or from contact with people that are already infected with VTEC. Households and childcare facilities where there are shared toilet facilities or nappy changing areas are also a higher risk of catching the infection. 

In just a four week period, more than 20 cases of VTEC have been confirmed in the region, leading to a number of hospitalisations, according to provisional data from the Department of Public Health Mid-West.

The Department has been investigating cases and have shared tips on how to lessen the chances of catching E.Coli. Some of these tips include, treating private wells, washing hands with warm soap and water near petting farms or zoos, before preparing or eating food and after using the toilet or changing a nappy. The public should also wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating and ensure raw meat is cooked fully.