Northern Ireland

E. Coli outbreak: Further tests on 40 people

Image caption The outbreak has been linked to Flicks restaurant in north Belfast

Further tests are to be carried out on more than 40 people following an E. Coli outbreak linked to a Belfast restaurant.

The management of Flicks restaurant at Cityside Mall on York Street voluntarily closed the premises and are cooperating with the investigation.

Eleven confirmed or suspected cases have already been identified.

It has now emerged that there was a separate E. Coli outbreak at the same restaurant in August.

Dr Michael Devine from the Public Health Agency said 42 people had contacted their GP with symptoms.

He said they require further investigation to find out what they had been eating in order to pinpoint the source of the infection.

"In response to the public information put out on Saturday and yesterday we have identified a further 42 people who require further investigation," he said.

"At this stage I should stress they don't have positive laboratory results but obviously we will be following that up today (Monday)."

At the weekend, the Public Health Agency urged anyone who ate at the restaurant since 24 September and had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain to contact their GP urgently.

He said the first case was discovered on 9 October and the second report was on 11 October when the restaurant closed voluntarily.

Environmental health officers from Belfast City Council are also taking part in the investigation.

The PHA said symptoms of E. Coli O157 can include diarrhoea, which can range from mild to profuse, watery or bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting.

On Sunday, Dr Devine said that, on average, symptoms last for about two weeks.

Image caption E.Coli symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting.

"At this stage it seems to be mainly adults involved, but obviously our investigations are ongoing and it may be that children have been affected.

"At this point, what we're trying to do is encourage people if they have eaten at Flicks restaurant, particularly on or around 4 October, and they've got symptoms of diarrhoea, particularly bloody diarrhoea, or tummy pains, that they would get medical advice from their GP."

Dr Devine said four of the 11 people known to have been infected had been in hospital, but he understood all had since been discharged.

He said some people could have been infected but not be experiencing any symptoms.

"With E. Coli 0157, it can be a very serious infection and that's why we're raising this alert, but some people can have very minimal or even no symptoms," he said.

"So if people have eaten at the restaurant and they've got concerns, I would advise they get medical advice."

In a statement, Flicks restaurant said: "We are fully co-operating with the Public Health Agency's investigation into a recent E. coli outbreak.

"As soon as they contacted us regarding the investigation we immediately closed the restaurant.

"We will continue to assist the PHA in finding the source of this outbreak."

In August, four people who had eaten at Flicks restaurant were found to have E. Coli 0157.

Dr Devine said: "All the investigations at the time were clear and the practices at the resuarant were found to be satisfactory."

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