Northern Ireland

E. coli outbreak: Almost 70 people could be affected

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

Almost 70 people are thought to have been affected by an E. coli outbreak linked to a Belfast restaurant.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) and environmental health officers are investigating the outbreak at Flicks restaurant at Cityside Mall.

The PHA said there were now 12 confirmed cases and 57 probable cases.

It has also emerged that there was a separate E. coli outbreak at the same restaurant in August which affected four people.

Management at Flicks have voluntarily closed the premises and are cooperating with the investigation.

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

Dr Michael Devine from the PHA said the first case was discovered on 9 October and the second report was on 11 October when the restaurant closed voluntarily.

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

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

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

"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."

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.

At the time, the PHA and Belfast City Council environmental health officers carried out an investigation and all tests on the restaurant were negative.

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