Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Thursday, 22 September 2005 13:03 UK

E.coli casualties rise once again

Caitlin Bray
Caitlin Bray is having dialysis as a result of the E.coli infection

The meat supplier linked to the E.coli outbreak at 27 south Wales schools, has said it is "a frightening situation and very worrying".

The firm, John Tudor and Son, of Bridgend, supplies cooked meat to schools and council institutions.

The firm has withdrawn its cooked meat range, while a Food Standards Agency investigation takes place.

Meanwhile, the number of E.coli cases in three council areas has grown by 10 on Thursday morning to 68.

The Food Standards Agency said it had issued an alert to local authorities to remove all the firm's cooked meat products from the food chain.

We're not asking people to check in their fridge. We don't believe there is any need for the general public to be worried about this at home
Food Standards Agency's Joy Winney

"When we say that there is a link established between the company and the outbreak, what that means is that consumption of their product is a common factor in the people who've been ill," said the agency's director Joy Winney.

"It's not proof that they've caused the outbreak. There's tests being done and we have to wait to see the outcome of those tests."

"We're not asking people to check in their fridge. We don't believe there is any need for the general public to be worried about this at home."

Sunday: Seven linked cases confirmed by Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr councils
Monday: Cases rise to 23. Officials warn of further rise
Tuesday: Cases rises to 41 in 19 schools. School canteens ruled out as source
Wednesday:T ally rises to 56 in 25 schools. Outbreak linked with Bridgend food supplier John Tudor and Son
Thursday: Cases rise by 10 to 68. Health officials move to quell any public fears

The meat supplier, John Tudor and Son, said that the business had been running for 48 years and had no previous hygiene problems.

On Wednesday, schools in Tonyrefail, Treherbert, Hirwaun and Treforest were revealed as having new cases of the E.coli 0157 strain. The bug has also spread to a school in Bridgend.

Two children are being treated at Alder Hey Children's Hospital and in Rhondda, three members of one family have been struck down with the illness.

Caitlin Bray, three, and her four-year-old brother, Thomas, and their mother, Lisa, are all in hospital.

Caitlin is on dialysis in the kidney unit of the Bristol Children's Hospital.

Primary: Abertaf; Blaengwawr; Bedlinog; Pengeulan; Capcoch; Caradog; Upper Rhymney; Comin; YGG Llwyncelyn; Cwmdare; Aberdare Town Church School; Troedyrhiw; Rhigos; Glenboi; Maesycoed; Cwmlai; Hirwaun; Parc Lewis, Ysgol yr Castell
Infants: Cwmbach; Penygraig; Cynon
Secondary: Pen y Dre; St John the Baptist; Archbishop McGrath; Ysgol Pen Yr Englyn, Treorchy

The family were among those who have criticised the authorities for not closing the schools until the outbreak was fully under control.

The National Public Health Service has said they expect numbers to rise as the outbreak reaches its peak, but have moved to quell public fears, claiming its response has been appropriate.

Spokesman Dr Roland Salmon said: "Given what we know about how long the incubation period can be, then it's certainly possible that we will see more cases.

"What we're anxious to do and what a number of the measures in place are designed to do is to make sure those cases don't infect other people and make them cases in their turn."

A helpline has been set up on 029 2040 2520, open from 0900 to 2100 BST every day until Friday.

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