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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 18:19 GMT
Wales' worst E.coli outbreak over
E.coli bacteria

Health officials have declared that Wales' worst-ever outbreak of E.coli is now over.

The announcement came from the outbreak control team on Tuesday who said the last case was recorded in mid October.

Since the first cases of E.coli O157 struck on 10 September, a total of 158 people - mostly children - have fallen ill and a five-year-old boy has died.

A Welsh Assembly Government inquiry, chaired by food expert Professor Hugh Pennington, will begin in the new year.

Schools affected

A separate police inquiry is continuing into the circumstances of the death of five-year-old Mason Jones, from Deri, near Bargoed, in the Rhymney Valley.

Mason died on 4 October at Bristol Children's Hospital from E.coli poisoning.

Mason Jones
Mason Jones, 5, died during the E.coli outbreak

The first cases were reported in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil, later spreading to Bridgend and Caerphilly and affecting children at 42 schools.

The total number of cases reported by health officials were revised on several occasions during the outbreak, with the final figure resting at 158.

Dr Gwen Lowe, chair of the Outbreak Control Team, said: "We have been delighted how the schools and parents have responded during this outbreak and we will be working with head teachers to continue to support them in maintaining high standards of hygiene within schools.

"The action we took right at the beginning of the outbreak led to many people being saved from illness and possibly the saving of lives as well.

"Looking back, it is clear that no one fell ill in a school as a result of attending school after control measures were implemented."

Health officials have also written to parents in affected areas notifying them that the E.coli outbreak is over.

Food safety expert Professor Hugh Pennington, who carried out an inquiry into an E.coli outbreak in Scotland in 1996 which killed 17 people, will head the Welsh assembly's inquiry into the cause of the outbreak in the new year.

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