Three children in hospital after E.coli outbreak – butchers at centre of investigation

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An outbreak of E.coli has prompted a food warning after several cases are confirmed.

People living in the south of County Durham and North Tees are being advised not to eat any cold pre-cooked meats and savouries bought since June 25 from Robinson’s butchers and caterers in Wingate and Billingham.

Anyone who has eaten cooked meats bought since June 25 from Robinson’s butchers and feels unwell should contact their GP in the usual way.

Dr Deb Wilson

The precautionary advice has been issued as a probe begins into the possible source of an outbreak of E.coli 0157.

The strain is a serious bacterial infection that can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

Environmental health teams from both County Durham and Stockton councils are working closely with local health protection experts from Public Health England after a sudden increase in reports of E.coli O157 infection in the area.

To date, seven confirmed and one suspected cases of E.coli O157 have been reported in the last week in both adults and children. Two of the children are currently receiving treatment in hospital.

Consultant in health protection and chair of the outbreak control team Dr Deb Wilson said: “The source of this outbreak is not yet known. However, several of the affected people are known to have eaten cooked meat products bought or supplied by Robinson’s butcher shops in either Wingate or Billingham.

“Although our investigation is at a very early stage, as a precautionary measure we are advising anyone who has bought cooked meats or savouries from Robinson’s butchers in Wingate or Billingham since 25 June, and still has them in their fridge or freezer, not to eat them and to throw them out immediately.

“The owner and staff of Robinson’s butchers and caterers are co-operating fully with the investigation and have agreed to discard all ready to eat food from both premises while the investigation continues.

“The premises have also agreed to carry out a deep clean of both premises and reinforce good hygiene practices.

“E.coli O157 infection can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and more rarely kidney failure in children.

“Anyone who has eaten cooked meats bought since June 25 from Robinson’s butchers and feels unwell should contact their GP in the usual way.”

A representative from Robinson’s was unavailable for comment.