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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Man dies from 'fast food bug'
Experts believe the bug may come from a take away
Government experts are investigating an outbreak of a fast-food superbug which has claimed one life and made hundreds ill.

The outbreak is being caused by a strain of salmonella that is resistant to all commonly used antibiotics.

One person has died, seven people have been admitted to hospital and 249 are reported to have fallen ill. More than 100 cases have been registered in the West Midlands.

Government public health experts are trying to trace the source of the bug and establish what kind of food is responsible for the infection.

The first reports of people falling ill came at the beginning of August.

It is worrying that it is a multiple-resistant salmonella

Dr Angus Nicholl, PHLS
Most of those affected have been teenagers and young adults, which has led doctors to believe that it may be caused by fast food.

The man who died was middle aged and was not suffering from any underlying illness, according to the PHLS.

The bug has caused two cases of blood poisoning or septicaemia.

Experts from the Public Health Laboratory Service revealed the death and the outbreak of the bug at the British Association Festival of Science meeting on Monday.

Dr Angus Nicholl, acting director of the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: "We are currently in the middle of investigations to try to find out what is the vehicle, what food caused it, and those analyses are still under way.

"It is worrying that it is a multiple-resistant salmonella. It is resistant to a number of antibodies, so that when people get septicaemia they are harder to treat."

He said the widespread distribution of commercially-produced food meant that, when a dangerous bug broke out, a large number of people became infected very quickly.

Dr Nicholl said it was unlikely that the outbreak had been caused by one of the major fast food chains.

He suggested that the cause would probably be found to be a small, independent restaurant or take-away.

PHLS officials and representatives of the Food Standards Agency are interviewing the victims in an attempt to find out where they had eaten in the week before they fell ill.

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06 Sep 00 | Health
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26 Aug 00 | Health
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