The Food Safety Authority has warned of the risks of farm-related E-coli infection. The warning comes on foot of a dramatic 118% increase of cases of Verotoxigenic E-coli in Ireland as compared to last year. There were 547 cases of verotoxigenic E-coli infection recorded in 2012 compared with 251 cases during the same period in 2011. Most of these cases occurred in rural areas and almost half occurred in children under 5 years of age.
Some E-coli bacteria are harmless, but some types are extremely dangerous and can cause severe stomach pains and bloody diarrhoea and can also cause kidney failure and death in some cases. Young children and infants are particularly at risk from this infection and special attention must be paid to protect their health.
Speaking about the latest figures Liam Moloney, Healthcare Solicitor in Naas Co Kildare said today “it is extremely worrying to see such a dramatic increase in the number of cases of E-coli infection in Ireland. Farmers have a crucial role to play in reducing the level of infections. It is extremely important that special attention is paid to protect young children’s health, such as washing their hands after they have been playing on a farm, checking to ensure that the farm’s drinking water supply is safe and keeping animals clean”.
E-coli bacteria live in the guts of animals and E-coli is passed in faeces (dung) and people can become infected after they come in contact with animals, drinking contaminated water, drinking unpasteurised milk and eating contaminated food.
Mr Moloney added ‘”the symptoms of E-coli infection include bloody diarrhoea and severe stomach cramps. In its mildest form, the symptoms usually clear up within a week or so but children may continue to shed the bacteria for much longer. Babies and young children (under 5 years old) are particularly at risk of E-coli infection because their immune systems are still developing”.