Two children hit by E coli bug after visiting park

Dr Pravinkumar: 'The best protection against E coli 0157 is to always wash your hands'. Picture: TSPL
Dr Pravinkumar: 'The best protection against E coli 0157 is to always wash your hands'. Picture: TSPL
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Health bosses are investigating how two young children became infected with E coli.

The youngsters had both visited Colzium Park in Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire, shortly before they fell ill.

A health protection team is working with North Lanarkshire Council to investigate the two cases of E coli 0157 in the children, who are both under the age of five. One of the children has fully recovered and is at home while the other is receiving treatment in hospital.

Dr Josephine Pravinkumar, a public health medicine consultant at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We are currently investigating any potential common sources of exposure.

“People can become infected in a number of ways: through eating contaminated food, contact with infected animals, contact with other people who have the illness or drinking contaminated water.

“Initial investigations have found that both children visited Colzium Park in Kilsyth shortly before becoming unwell. However, investigations into other possible sources are continuing.”

The park has a children’s play area but does not have any farm animals and there are no catering facilities within the grounds.

NHS Lanarkshire has sent out letters to local GPs to make them aware of the cases. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.

Dr Pravinkumar added: “E coli 0157 is a serious disease. It is very important that we are made aware of any further cases. I would especially advise parents, if their child has any symptoms, that they should report this urgently to their GP. The disease can cause severe illness in young children and older people.

“The best protection against E coli 0157 is to always wash your hands, especially after contact with animals, going to the toilet and immediately before eating, and to make sure that food is always properly prepared.”

E coli is a gut bacteria found in humans and animals. There are a number of different types, most of which are harmless, but some can cause serious gastro-intestinal infections. A common means of infection is eating food that has been contaminated with the bacteria. E coli 0157 is usually responsible for the major outbreaks.

An eight-year-old girl died in Glasgow last August after becoming infected in an isolated incident. There were seven cases in an outbreak connected to the Rose Lodge Nursery School in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, in May last year. One child was left with permanent damage including blindness, severe hearing loss and complete kidney failure.

The world’s worst recorded outbreak of food poisoning from E coli 0157 began in central Scotland in 1996. It resulted in 21 deaths and left 280 people ill.

Another eight-month outbreak across the UK left one dead and 250 ill in 2011, but was not publicised because its origins were unknown. Investigations linked the illness to people handling leeks and potatoes in their homes.

In September this year, 19 people fell ill after eating bagged watercress bought from Sainsbury’s.