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Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 08:48 GMT


Health

E. coli cheese warning

The E. coli 0157 bacterium causes severe food poisoning

Health officials have said unpasteurised cheese is the most likely cause of the most recent E. coli outbreak.

Health officials have warned consumers not to eat Cotherstone cheese.

It is produced by an independent dairy in Teesdale, Cleveland, and is available around the country.

The Department of Health statement follows two cases of E. coli poisoning in Cleveland.

Two women fell ill. One of them spent five days in hospital and both have now recovered, a spokeswoman for the department said.

The women have not been named.

Health alert

Environmental health officers have been put on alert to look out for new cases.

Although Cotherstone cheese is not thought to be stocked by the major supermarket chains, it is available across the UK, mainly through specialist shops.

The spokeswoman said anyone who has bought some of the cheese should throw it away.

Health officials do not believe the recent cases are linked to the outbreak in Cumbria in early March.

In that instance it is thought the bacteria was spread in milk that had not been pasteurised properly.

More than twenty people were hospitalised.

The harmful E. coli 0157 strain is found mainly in the gut of cattle.

An outbreak killed 21 people in central Scotland in 1996 and 1997.

The number of cases in the UK has tripled over the last decade.



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