Dáil Éireann - Volume 482 - 18 November, 1997
Written Answers. - E. Coli Incidence.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
163. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will give details of the number of E. coli 0157 cases diagnosed in 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19488/97]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Separate figures for the number of cases of E. coli 0157 are not available as this disease is not identified separately as a notifiable disease under the Infectious Diseases Regulations, 1981. Food poisoning — bacterial other than salmonella — is included on the list of specified diseases and E. coli 0157 comes within this category.
My Department has recognised the potentially serious implications of the E. coli infection and has taken steps to increase awareness of it. A report on the matter by the Food Safety Advisory Committee was circulated to all health boards in October 1994 with an instruction that it should be brought to the attention of all officers engaged in food control operations.
A reminder to this effect was issued in July 1995. A further reminder issued in December 1996, this time to directors of public health in the health boards. The directors were asked to remind doctors and laboratories to be particularly vigilant in reporting cases of food poisoning, with a view to identifying any possible cases of E. coli infection. Following advice from the Food Safety Advisory Board, the health promotion unit of my Department has prepared a leaflet for distribution to the general public on this matter.
The proposed national disease surveillance unit will provide a comprehensive approach to the prevention of disease, including foodborne diseases. I hope to be in a position shortly to approve the establishment of this unit on an interim basis.
Dáil Éireann 482 Written Answers. E. Coli Incidence.