Cookie dough and crabs: 9 sick with E. coli O157 in Plymouth ‘linked to crab meat’

In yet another example of prompt public alerts by UK health types, nine people were sickened with E. coli O157 in Plymouth in August and it’s now being made public (see E. coli O157 linked to leeks sickens 250 and kills 1 in UK; 8-month outbreak only now being made public).

A 3-month delay is, sortof, an improvement on an 8-month delay in public notification.

The Plymouth Herald reports this morning that environmental health officers and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) launched an inquiry after nine cases were confirmed in the city – in August.

It is believed to be the first reported outbreak of the E.coli O157 strain associated with the consumption of crab meat.

The investigation is continuing but there is a suspected link with an unapproved crab supplier.

Investigators revealed they took action after nine cases emerged in August. There have been no further reports of illness linked to crab since.

The South West HPA and Plymouth City Council said in a joint statement: "A wider investigation is still ongoing following on from the outbreak, so we are not in a position to give full details but we suspect a link to an unapproved crab supplier.

"Environmental health officers from the council acted swiftly to identify crab meat as a possible source and removed all potentially affected crab meat from food establishments as a precautionary measure.

"The team worked closely with the SW (North) Health Protection Unit to investigate the cases and ensure that GPs in Plymouth and beyond were aware of the issue, if anyone presented with symptoms."

The team also alerted food outlets in the city about the importance of only buying food or ingredients from approved or registered suppliers.

A study into the outbreak showed a ‘statistically significant’ association between cases and the consumption of crab meat away from home.