§ The Countess of Mar
asked Her Majesty's Government:
In view of the number of incidents of contamination of primary agricultural produce by E.coli 0157, what measures they are taking to identify the sources from which the animals involved have become infected. [HL1791]
§ Lord Donoughue
E.coli 0157 is a dangerous pathogen that is infectious to humans at low doses and can cause mortality. It has been categorised on the same level as anthrax for the safety of those at risk, e.g., laboratory workers. Nevertheless, it can infect animals without causing disease. It will be present naturally in the environment of many farm animals and exposure will come from a number of sources. It was only identified relatively recently and there is a lot we do not know about it. Incidents of E.coli 0157 in humans which are thought to be associated with an animal source are investigated at the request of the medical authorities. Samples are examined and epidemiological data collected in order to establish a database for scientific analysis.