Outbreak report Open Access


In October/November 2005, the largest outbreak of verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) ever recorded in Ireland occurred. Eighteen E. coli O157 culture-positive cases, phage type 32, verotoxin 2 positive, were identified in a small rural area of mid-west Ireland. Half of these patients were asymptomatic. Two children were admitted to hospital with haemolytic uraemic syndrome, one of whom required peritoneal dialysis, and both recovered. All 18 culture-positive patients had indistinguishable or closely related pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. Nine of the VTEC O157 culture-positive individuals were in preschool children attending two local crèches. Several culture-positive individuals apparently had exposure to a vulnerable private group water scheme (GWS) in an agricultural area. No microbiological evidence of VTEC was found in food or water. One veterinary sample (an animal rectal swab) was positive for E. coli O157 and the PFGE strain was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. A case control study showed analytical epidemiological evidence of risk related to potential exposure to the GWS but not related to reported consumption of that water. Selection of cases and controls proved challenging. Transmission occurred primarily in childcare and family settings, with significant person-to-person spread. Control measures included voluntary closure of the crèches, exclusion of culture-positive individuals in risk groups until microbiological clearance was achieved and the issuing of a ‘boil water’ advisory for drinking water pending upgrading of disinfection facilities.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

Submit comment
Comment moderation successfully completed
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error