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Home > News > Your legal rights if you are infected with the E-Coli virus

28th September 2009

Your legal rights if you are infected with the E-Coli virus

Recent press coverage

There have been several recent outbreaks of E-coli in the press that are causing people great concern.

As the third farm closes in the UK from a suspected E-coli outbreak, people are likely to become more cautious about visiting farms, and concerned that they may come into contact with the bacteria.

The current outbreak of E-Coli

To date, there have been confirmed outbreaks of E-coli in Godstone Farm in Surrey, Horton Park Children’s Farm in Epsom and most recently a suspected outbreak in White Post Farm at Farnsfield. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed that Godstone Farm and Horton Park have been closed due to “unsatisfactory” hygiene arrangements.

It has not yet been confirmed that White Post Farm is the source of E-coli and tests are being carried out to identify how the bacteria was passed on. Parents of the affected children have been given an apology by the HPA for the apparent delays in closing the farm.

The recent outbreaks of E-coli is a reminder of the severity of the infection. It has been reported that there are 45 affected from the E-coli outbreaks linked to Godstone Farm. 12 children are receiving treatment in hospital, and 4 are said to be seriously ill.

What is E-Coli

E-coli, or Escherichia coli is a common type of bacteria which is present in the environment. As with many bacteria, E-coli is not always harmful. It usually lives inside peoples’ intestines and helps the body break down and digest food. However, some strains of E-coli are potentially fatal and can cause permanent damage.

How you may be infected with the E-Coli virus

The bacteria lives in the intestines of animals, which can cause food to become infected through the faecal matter. Food contamination can occur from improper handling on a farm. E-coli can also be contracted by having contact with high risk animals, for example by touching cows, sheep and goats.

Warning signs of possible E-Coli

Warning signs include bad stomach cramps and stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea. E.coli 0157 can also cause blood in the stools. Symptoms may appear within hours or days, depending on that person’s state of health, the number of organisms ingested, and how they react to the bug.

E-coli has the potential to cause serious complications for people who have contracted the infection. Haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur in people who have contracted the infection. This kills red blood cells and can lead to permanent and severe kidney damage. People who suffer from this could need dialysis or a transplant.

Vulnerable groups

E-coli 0157 is a harmful type of bacteria that may affect vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly, children and those with a weak immune system, for example after undergoing chemotherapy. Young people are more at risk because they are unable to tolerate much fluid or blood loss.

Making a claim for compensation

Parents of infected children who suffer permanent damage as a result of the E-coli may wish to seek legal advice on whether they are entitled to compensation for the injuries suffered by their child.

Legal advice may also be sought if there appears to have been a delay by a medical professional in diagnosing the E-coli infection, or if there has been a misdiagnosis which could have a worse outcome for the patient.

It is important to seek legal advice promptly as strict time limits apply to making a claim. Developing E-coli does not mean automatically that you have a valid claim for compensation. The outcome of any claim depends on the facts of the case, such as whether the injury or illness was foreseeable but was not prevented by the responsible person or organisation.

Clear Answers has extensive experience in these types of personal injury compensation claims, particularly cases which may involve multi-party actions where several victims wish to take action as a group, or individual cases of food poisoning or medical negligence.

Clear Answers’ lawyers have teams of specialists waiting to help you, should you decide to instruct us to represent you in your compensation claim. We will be happy to provide you with expert legal advice, and our specialist personal injury lawyers will talk you through the claims process in plain English. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your claim.

If you or a family member has been injured in these circumstances, please ring us on 0800 783 9019 and speak to one of our advisers. Alternatively, if you prefer to complete one of our online compensation claim forms, a representative will contact you as quickly as possible.

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