E.Coli outbreak in Scotland linked to blue cheese

Health authorities have warned an E.coli outbreak in Scotland could have been caused by a specific blue cheese.

There have been 16 confirmed cases of E.coli 0157. Picture: TSPL

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) are investigating 16 confirmed cases of the same strain of E. coli O157, which may be associated with eating blue cheese made from unpasteurised milk.

Initial investigations from the public health body indicated that a number of those infected had consumed Dunsyre Blue at various locations across Scotland prior to becoming unwell.

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The cases developed symptoms between 2 and 15 July.

A Scottish blue cheese is suspected to be the source of the outbreak. (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

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HPS has been working with Foods Standards Scotland (FSS), NHS boards and local authority environmental health teams to probe and manage the outbreak.

Errington Cheese - the Lanark-based producers of Dunsyre Blue - are carrying out a voluntary recall of the two suspected batches.

The business’ founder, Humphrey Errington, said they were co-operating fully with HPS’ investigation but were shocked by the initial findings.

A Scottish blue cheese is suspected to be the source of the outbreak. (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Mr Errington said: “ We don’t know for sure yet if this happened because of our cheese.

“We’re completely baffled by their (HPS) conclusion it is connected to Dunsyre Blue.”

“We haven’t seen the evidence yet, only circumstantial proof that some of the 16 had eaten the cheese at hotels we supply.”

“We have sent more than 40 samples to testing centres and all tests so far have come back negative for E.coli 0157.”

Mr Errington, whose daughter Selina Cairns now runs the company, was concerned of the impact the outbreak could have on the family-run firm.

Dr Syed Ahmed, Clinical Director at HPS, said: “The majority of cases have consumed Dunsyre Blue while eating out, but members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese between 18 May and 29 July, and still have the product in their fridges, should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it.

“Symptoms associated with E. coli O157 can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea (often bloody), vomiting and occasionally fever.

“Anyone developing symptoms, including bloody diarrhoea, or who is concerned about their symptoms, should contact their GP or telephone NHS 24 on 111 for advice.

“It is important to maintain good hand and food hygiene practices at all times as this reduces the risk of passing the infection to others.”

The results of further tests are expected today.

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