A 64 year-old woman from Plymouth is trying to raise awareness of E. coli and HUS, after she became infected and ended up in intensive care. She became ill in August of last year and ended up having to stay in hospital for three weeks as doctors battled to save her life.
It was thought at the time that the outbreak was caused by infected crab meat, although in this case no crab meat had been consumed. E. coli is by no means limited to shell fish or crab meat, and previous outbreaks have been traced back to raw vegetables and even traces of soil stuck to leeks and potatoes, with the most common source of infection coming from the guts of infected farm animals.
There are various ways of contracting the illness, and it is essential that those who work with food have the right food safety training so as to avoid contamination and the spread of the illness. People can catch E. coli from eating infected food, touching infected animals, and lack of adequate hygiene. The bloody diarrhoea, fever and vomiting that result can be very dangerous, and indeed, even fatal.