1996 - Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia Coli in Japan
26 July 1996
Disease Outbreak Reported
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has reported an outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infection among schoolchildren in Sakai City (population ca.800 000), in the region of Osaka. Most of the reported cases are children from 6 to 12 years of age from 62 public elementary schools of the municipality.
Patients began to show abdominal cramps and diarrhoea (including bloody diarrhoea) in the evening of 12 July and the number of cases increased over the following days. As of 26 July, the total number of schoolchildren affected was 6260; 92 patients developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). An additional 92 cases have been reported among teachers and other school staff. EHEC serotype 0157 has been detected from 287 out of 542 patient stool samples. School lunch, which was prepared in individual schools from the foods delivered by a central supply station, is the suspected cause of this outbreak; the responsible food is yet unknown.
Sakai City has 92 public elementary schools, with a total of 48 000 schoolchildren and 2 288 teachers. The Ministry of Health and Welfare, the municipality of Sakai and the prefectural government of Osaka have set up a joint investigation group and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, put in place measures to prevent secondary infections and other outbreaks.