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E. coli: secret danger of playing in the countryside

Helen Puttick, a Health Correspondent for Hands Clean, did a story this week on a two-year-old boy sickened with E. coli from what was supposed to be a fun playdate on the farm.

“… a few carefree moments exploring the countryside of East Lothian as a small child has forever changed the life of Fraser Imrie, and turned his garden into a danger zone where Fiona, his mother, is afraid to let her children play.”

Just before his third birthday, Fraser was poisoned by E. coli O157:H7, which is carried by animals and spread through their droppings.
Now, 10 years after the infection paralysed the toddler below the neck, the Scottish Executive has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the bacterium, and encourage visitors to the countryside to wash their hands as often as possible.
From the article:

“I can still see him as he looked that day,” she said. “His eyes were sunk in his face and he could not move.” She took him to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he slipped into a coma and spent a month in intensive care. When she finally took Fraser home, he was a prisoner in a body which would no longer obey messages from his brain.

Parents, teachers and youth groups such as guide and scout packs are the target of the awareness drive, which comes amid concern that Scotland has the highest rate of e-coli 0157 infections in the UK. Like many, Mrs Imrie, from North Berwick, was not aware of the risks posed by the micro-organism which livestock harbour without suffering themselves.
Today, Fraser is an articulate 12-year-old who attends mainstream school, but he also needs round-the-clock care. He may have some learning difficulties, but it is his physical mobility which has been destroyed by E. coli. He cannot sit up unaided.
Fraser has two younger siblings, Lachlan, 10, and Iona, eight. Mrs Imrie is vigilant about protecting them from their environment, seeking advice after sheep wandered into their garden and being told not to let her children play in the grass for three months.

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