The national salmonella outbreak which has struck down nearly 250 people across Britain could be traced back to a single source of eggs, health investigators have said.
Dr Paul Cleary, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said:
There is now evidence to indicate that cases in Europe with the same strains of salmonella infection were associated with consumption of eggs from a single source.
This egg supply also reached distributors and food outlets in England, but at this stage we cannot conclusively demonstrate this is the infection source in this country.
An international search to find the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has so far been linked to three deaths is under way.
Public Health England says all 156 cases it is investigating are linked - and are likely to have come from a single source.
ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports:
It has emerged that three people who caught Salmonella and were at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital have died.
In total, 43 people in the West Midlands have caught the food poisoning bug, 34 of them connected with the Heartlands Hospital.
A Hospital spokesperson, said:
One of the deaths is subject to a coroner’s inquest and therefore we are unable to comment at this stage.
We can confirm that we have tested both food and water at the Heartlands site and have ruled these out as the root cause of the infection.
We are working with the Public Health England to investigate the other two cases, which includes the possibility of the infection being community acquired.
Health officials have revealed that 55 cases of Salmonella have been reported in the county. They say 32 of those are connected to the Real China restaurant in Eastleigh. Across the country, 156 people have been affected by the gastrointestinal illness over several months. George Williams from Southampton had it and told us he struggled to even get out of bed.
As Public Health England investigates a national outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis, here are some tips on how to avoid becoming infected.Read the full story ›
Public Health England has announced it is investigating a national outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis - but what is it?
- It is a strain of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness
- The bacteria can be found in uncooked meat, seafood, poultry and eggs
- It is one of the most common strains of Salmonella reported worldwide
- Anyone can get a Salmonella infection
- However, the elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill
Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever.
Source: Public Health England and US Center for Disease Control
Public Health England has been "making good progress" in its investigation into a national outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis, the doctor leading the probe has said.
Consultant epidemiologist Dr Paul Cleary said they "hope to have more conclusive evidence shortly."
“We will continue to monitor the situation and if there is any further public health action necessary then we will ensure that this takes place,” he added.
Health officials have warned they are investigating a national outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis.
The cases of Salmonella were reported:
- Hampshire: 55 cases - 32 were connected with a single restaurant
- London: 25 cases - 11 people were hospitalised
- Cheshire and Merseyside: 33 cases - 31 related to a single restaurant
- West Midlands: 43 cases - 31 connected with Birmingham Heartlands Hospital outbreak
Cases have also been seen in France and Austria, Public Health England said.
There have been no cases of Salmonella reported in Wales or Scotland so far.
A national outbreak of Salmonella that has affected 156 people is being investigated, Public Health England said.
The cases in England "occurred in isolated clusters over several months" and have been managed locally, according to the health watchdog.
However, the cases of Salmonella "are now being reassessed as potentially linked under a national investigation," it added.
Public Health England has said it does not expect to see any more cases of blood poisoning following the death of one baby and the infection of 14 others, but stressed it "can never be 100% certain".
Dr Paul Cosford said, "We are confident as we are able to be at this stage of the investigation that we have identified the likely source and that that is no longer being used to treat babies.
"We've notified every hospital, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority have withdrawn the products and made sure that if there is any left that it is out of use and we re also being careful to make sure we are aware of any new cases that arise".