Study Links Uncooked Hamburgers
To Food Poisoning
LONDON ( - British doctors advised people on Friday not to eat rare or uncooked hamburgers because of the risk of infection from the strain of E. coli bacteria that causes a potentially deadly form of food poisoning.
Britain's Public Health Service Laboratories (PHSL), which monitors the control and prevention of infectious diseases, issued the warning after investigating more than 85 cases of E. coli 0157 in England and Wales during a two-year study between 1994 and 1996.
It said people eating in restaurants should be prepared to send uncooked meat back. They should also be aware that cold, cooked meats were also linked to the bacteria as well as visits to infected farms.
"We are calling for local inspections of catering establishments that serve cooked meats in burger restaurants coupled with public education on preventative hygiene for farm visits," a spokesman for the PHSL told Reuters.
The government body investigated possible sources of the infection that killed more than 20 people in Scotland a year ago. It also killed 12 people in Japan in 1995 and four children in the United States in 1993.
The research, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that 58 cases occurred after people had eaten in restaurants. Twenty cases resulted from contact with cattle and another 15 from visiting a private farm.
"Our study is the first to report not only food-related risk factors but also risk factors for person-to-person and zoonotic (animal to human) transmission," said Dr. Roland Salmon, who led the research team.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health in the United States are testing a genetically engineered vaccine against E. coli 0157.
A Phase I trial of 87 adults, which tests the safety of the vaccine, showed it boosted their immune systems by stimulating the antibody levels in their blood.

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