Serious food-poisoning outbreak linked to teenagers eating fast food

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Britain is in the throes of a food-poisoning outbreak caused by a strain of salmonella that is resistant to most of the common antibiotics used to control bacterial infections, a government scientist has confirmed.

Britain is in the throes of a food-poisoning outbreak caused by a strain of salmonella that is resistant to most of the common antibiotics used to control bacterial infections, a government scientist has confirmed.

Angus Nichol, acting director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre at the Public Health Laboratory Service in London, told the British Association conference yesterday that 265 people have contracted the illness since the start of August, with seven admitted to hospital, three with blood poisoning - one of whom has since died.

Only 97 cases were reported for the same period last year. "Most of them have been in teenagers and young adults. We're currently in the middle of investigations to try to find out what is the vehicle of that, what food caused it, and those analyses are still under way," Dr Nichol said.

The strain of salmonella is known as Salmonella typhimurium DT104, and it is resistant to six types of antibiotics, including streptomycin and tetracycline. "It's not a new salmonella; it's one that we've seen before. It is worrying that it is a multiply resistant salmonella, so that when people get septicaemia, they are harder to treat," Dr Nichol said.

Epidemiologists are trying to find out the cause of the outbreak and are concentrating on the West Midlands region, where 99 cases have been reported so far. The prevalence of children and teenagers among the figures suggests that it might be due to fast-food outlets.

"I think for this age group we are talking about takeaway foods... The big manufacturers have not been found to be a problem in the past because their quality control is so good, it tends to be the smaller ones," he said.

"Although levels of risk for food-borne illnesses are considerably less than they were in the past because of improved food hygiene, and certainly most of the food processing that takes place in this country is very safe, where something goes wrong you have got an ability for quite a large number of people to become infected very quickly because of the way food is distributed.

"Takeaway foods can be the vector when it is as widespread as this, or it may have got into a particular food that is widely distributed. Until the analyses are done, I could not say which it is."

Comments