27 November 2009
The Health Protection Agency is investigating a number of cases of the gastrointestinal infection E. coli O157 associated with travellers returning from the resort of Benidorm in Spain.
So far the HPA has been made aware of 14 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 among travellers returning to the UK, with onset dates ranging from 12th - 21st November. All laboratory confirmed cases are adults. Four people are known to have been admitted to hospital after returning to the UK. Two have since been discharged.
The agency is working with the Spanish health authorities to assist in their investigation. HPA will be supporting the investigation by conducting interviews with people affected in the UK to help identify a possible source.
As gastrointestinal infections can be contracted from a number of different sources, identifying the source involved in this cluster will be key to offering definitive advice to travellers. However there are some simple measures that people visiting Benidorm can take to protect themselves and their families against this infection:
After being infected by the E. coli bacteria it usually takes three to four days before symptoms develop, but it can be between one and 14 days. Symptoms experienced by people with E. coli O157 can vary from no illness through to having mild or bloody diarrhoea. A small minority of cases (2-7%, and mainly children) can experience more severe symptoms such as kidney failure.
Any travellers who have recently returned from this resort and who suspect that they or their children may have E. coli O157 infection should contact their GP as soon as possible. The Health Protection Agency is advising the following to prevent other people being affected by secondary infection in the home or workplace:
As the source of infection has not yet been identified it is possible that future cases of E. coli O157 linked to Benidorm may be identified in coming weeks. HPA is collating information to assist local investigations and provide data to inform actions that might be taken at an international level.
Notes to editors
General information on E.coli:
The Health Protection Agency's web page on E. coli O157 can be found at the link below.
The agency has provided a helpful factsheet including advice for people at home and in other environments where someone has the E. coli O157 infection. http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1254510413069
For further information on this press release please contact the Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections press office on:
Kate Swan 020 8327 7097
David Daley 020 8327 6647
Georgina Fletcher 020 8327 6690
Alexandra Baker 020 8327 7098
Louise Brown 020 8327 7080
Eleanor Bunch 020 8327 6217
Last reviewed: 27 November 2009