Escherichia coli 0157 is responsible for an emerging enteric disease which became a growing public health concern in 1996 with major outbreaks in Japan and Scotland. Unfortunately, the more common haemorrhagic colitis can at times develop into the haemolytic uraemic syndrome with associated renal disease which can lead to fatalities. It is now apparent that few bacterial cells are needed to spread infection and that cross‐contamination is therefore a significant problem. Although there are national programmes to investigate E. coli 0157 infection and gain new information on epidemiology, handwashing is seen as a very simple but effective approach to prevent transmission from contaminated material to food. We need to be made aware of the clinical importance of E. coli infection and how best we can bring it under control.
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