E.coli bacteria: two children dead in one month, here are the prevention instructions to adopt

The number of cases of serious contamination with E.coli bacteria has been increasing since the beginning of the year. (©monregard / Adobe Stock)

This is the second infant death in a month linked to the bacterium Escherichia coli† In a press release issued this Saturday, March 12, 2022, Public Health France warns: “from March 11, 2022, 26 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or severe infection, linked to E. coli bacteria with similar characteristics, have been identified,” the organization explains.

The sick children aged 1 to 15 years with a median age of 8 years showed symptoms between 18/01/2022 and 23/02/2022. Two children died.

Public Health France

26 cases in 9 regions of France

These 26 cases of “SHU or severe infection, linked to E. coli bacteria”, have currently been detected, identified in nine regions of Francedetail the health authorities:

  • New Aquitaine (6 suitcases)
  • Hauts-de-France (5 suitcases)
  • Ile-de-France (4 suitcases)
  • Pays de la Loire (4 suitcases)
  • Brittany (3 suitcases)
  • Burgundy-Franche-Comté (1 suitcase)
  • Great East (1 case)
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte-D’azur (1 suitcase)
  • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (1 suitcase)

Otherwise, 22 additional cases are under investigation, adds Public Health France. On February 24, 13 cases of HUS were identified.

A “rare” but “serious” disease

Faced with the increase in the number of severe cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children, investigations have been ongoing since the first reports on January 1, 2022 and have been increasing since February.

Hemolytic and uremic syndrome (HUS) is a food-borne illness, “rare in France but potentially serious at the extreme age of life,” explains the health ministry on its site. In children, this syndrome is “usually caused by an infection with a bacterium belonging to the E. coli family”say the health authorities.

[Le SHU] is the leading cause of acute renal failure in children under three years of age. In the context of hemolytic uremic syndrome in children, two categories of foods in particular are involved: minced meat and products made from raw milk.

Ministry of Health

Every year there are about 160 children with HUS in France.

HUS . to detect

To control this infectious disease, usually of food origin, Public health France has introduced a monitoring system since 1996.

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To quickly identify this infection, the authorities remind that “the latter manifests itself” within 3-4 days after infection (maximum 10 days) diarrhoea, often accompanied by blood, abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting, which can develop into a severe form of the infection (HUS) in about 10% of children after about a week”.

The risk of developing HUS is greater at the extreme age of life, especially in young children who then show signs of great fatigue, paleness, a decrease in urine volume, which becomes darker, and sometimes convulsions.

Public Health France

In the event of such symptoms, a doctor should be consulted immediately for any hospital treatment that may require blood transfusions and/or dialysis.

A common origin not yet detected

The studies currently being conducted aim to: “identify a possible source of common contamination” and to take appropriate action (e.g. recall of products charged)”. Common source of contamination undiscovered, beware of health authorities.

At this stage, the epidemiological investigation has not allowed to blame any particular source of contamination.

Observe food risk prevention measures

In this regard, the health authorities are also renewing the general recommendations of: food risk prevention, especially for children under 16† The ministry recalls that “the E. coli responsible for HUS is present in the gut of many ruminants (cows, calves, goats, sheep, deer, etc.) manure, soil) and food. These bacteria tolerate cold well ( survive in a refrigerator or freezer), but are destroyed by cooking”.

To prevent the bacteria from being transferredespecially in children under 16 and the elderly, several “simple gestures” can be performed:

  • Washing hands systematically before preparing meals;
  • Meat, especially ground beef, but also ground meat preparations, must be well cooked (and not pink through the core);
  • raw milk, cheeses made from raw milk and dairy products made from raw milk should not be consumed by children under 5 years of age; for them it is better to give preference to boiled pressed cheeses (Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Beaufort, etc.), processed cheese and cheeses from pasteurized milk;
  • Flour-based preparations (pizza/cookie dough/cake/pie, etc.) should not be eaten raw or undercooked;
  • vegetables, salads, fruits and aromatic herbs, especially those eaten raw, should be carefully washed before consumption, possibly after peeling. †
  • raw foods should be kept separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods;
  • cooked meals and food scraps should be quickly placed in the refrigerator and heated sufficiently and consumed quickly;
  • kitchen utensils (especially if they have previously been in contact with raw food), as well as work surfaces, should be thoroughly washed;
  • children should not drink untreated water (spring water, torrent, etc.) and avoid swallowing it while swimming (lake, pond, etc.);
  • avoid contact of very young children (under 5 years old) with cows, calves, sheep, goats, deer, etc., and their environment; hands should be washed systematically in case of contact with these animals.

The health authorities are continuing their investigations to identify the source of this contamination and “take appropriate health measures as soon as possible to prevent the occurrence of new cases”.

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