A strain of E. coli, which has been linked to imported meat, is said to be spreading rapidly throughout England and Wales.
According to an investigation this new strain of the E. coli bacteria now affects around 30,000 people a year. The strain produces an enzyme which creates infections resistant to many drugs. One expert has apparently said it is worse than MRSA.
Recently on the ‘Tonight with Trevor McDonald’ programme, figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveal the growth of the ESBL E.coli bug, which first appeared in Britain in 2003, mainly affecting elderly women. Two years ago the HPA reported a rise in infections caused by the strain, with one study showing it had caused a significant number of deaths in one area.
There have so far been two major outbreaks reported, in Southampton and Shropshire. It is believed that the bug spread in the North of England, with the number of cases in Blackpool more than doubling in the last two years.
Professor Peter Collignon, director of the infectious diseases unit at Canberra Hospital in Australia, tells the programme: “It’s worse than MRSA. A superbug like ESBL is very difficult or sometimes impossible to treat.”
Apparently tests for the HPA of chickens for sale in British supermarkets, found a quarter of foreign chicken had ESBL E.coli, compared with just one British bird.