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E.coli

Health written question – answered on 15th October 2009.

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Photo of Peter Ainsworth Peter Ainsworth Conservative, East Surrey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements there are to ensure that, when a case of E.coli infection is diagnosed, information regarding the diagnosis is passed to the Health Protection Agency.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

When a local national health service laboratory makes a presumptive diagnosis of E. coli 0157, the laboratory should send the sample to the Health Protection Agency's (HPA) Gastrointestinal Infections Reference Unit at the Centre for Infections for confirmation of the diagnosis. The NHS laboratory is also encouraged to report suspect E coli 0157 cases by telephone to the HPA's local Health Protection Unit for rapid investigation and appropriate public health action. Where E. coli 0157 infection is suspected to be a food borne infection, notification is statutorily required.

The HPA is currently putting in place an additional reporting mechanism for Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), a severe consequence of some E. coli 0157 infections so that when clinicians identify a case of HUS, they will alert the HPA.

The Department has recently consulted on new statutory proposals to make all E. coli 0157 infections, "Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS)" and "infectious bloody diarrhoea" notifiable to facilitate more rapid detection of clusters of cases.

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