Three children affected by E. coli bug alert in Kent

Image caption,
The E. coli strain is the same as that seen in the Godstone Farm outbreak

A "small cluster" of E. coli cases among children is being investigated by the Kent Health Protection Unit.

The three children, whose ages have not been revealed, are all members of the same family who have recently met for barbecues and picnics.

The first case was in Kent, and the other two children are from Sussex.

All three are "well" and are not in hospital. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said one case was confirmed and two were being investigated.

Dr Mathi Chandrakumar, director of the Kent Health Protection Unit, said letters informing parents about the latest cases had been sent to schools in the areas affected and to GPs.

Doctors have been asked to report any diarrhoea symptoms.

He said: "We are raising awareness of E. coli O157 infection, especially as at this time of year people attend more barbecues and picnics in the countryside.

"It is an infection that can be passed easily from person to person and young children are especially vulnerable to it and to complications which can arise from it."

The E. coli strain is the same as that seen in the Godstone Farm outbreak in Surrey last year.

During the outbreak at the farm near Redhill, 93 people including 76 children were infected with the bug.

In the latest alert, none of the cases have been linked to any visits to farms.

E. coli O157 bacteria usually causes diarrhoea which settles within seven days without treatment.

In about 5% of cases, serious kidney and blood complications can occur.

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