HALF of the patients in Scotland affected by a UK-wide E. coli outbreak have been admitted to hospital.

Public Health Scotland said cases are being seen in all age groups but that most of them are among young adults.

Half of those recorded cases have required hospital admission, the figures showed.

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Whole genome sequencing of samples indicates that most of the 113 cases reported in the UK since May 25 are “part of a single outbreak,” the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

It said it was working with agencies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as the Food Standards Agency to determine the cause of people’s illness.

All the cases recorded in the outbreak involve Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O145 (Stec), with 81 cases in England, 18 in Wales and one in Northern Ireland, who believes they acquired Stec in England.

Those who have fallen ill range in age from two to 79, with the number of people affected expected to rise.

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria that are normally harmless and live in the intestines of humans and animals.

However, some strains can produce toxins that can make people unwell, such as Stec.

People infected with this can suffer diarrhoea and around 50% of cases have bloody diarrhoea.

Other symptoms include stomach cramps and fever.

Head of health protection at Public Health Scotland Jim McMenamin said: “To help stop infections like E. coli from spreading, we advise regular hand washing using soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food.

“People should also use disinfectants to clean surfaces that may be contaminated.

“Anyone experiencing severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever should call their GP or 111 to seek advice.

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“Anyone with diarrhoea or vomiting should avoid attending places such as schools, workplaces or social gatherings until at least 48 hours after symptoms have ceased.”

Head of incidents and resilience at the FSA Darren Whitby said the organisation was working to identify the source of the illness “which is likely to be linked to one or more food items”.

Trish Mannes, incident director at UKHSA, said: “If you have diarrhoea and vomiting, you can take steps to avoid passing it on to family and friends.

“NHS.uk has information on what to do if you have symptoms and when to seek medical advice.

“Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using disinfectants to clean surfaces will help stop infections from spreading.

“If you are unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting, you should not prepare food for others while unwell and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings.