VTEC/E. coli O157 is an important public health challenge in Scotland. It has the potential to cause large outbreaks, and its effects can be devastating. It is now more than 10 years since the Scottish E. coli O157 Task Force reported to Scottish Ministers, but in that time the number of annual cases has remained stubbornly stable, and the incidence of E. coli O157 in Scotland is the highest within the UK.
In 2010, Scottish Ministers decided to convene a multidisciplinary VTEC/E. coli O157 Action Group. The group's main remit has been to produce an Action Plan for Scotland. The group brought together all relevant agencies with expertise and regulatory responsibilities in controlling potential sources of human infection.
The Action Plan aims to reduce the number of infections with VTEC/E. coli O157 through 86 recommendations attributed to key agencies. The Action Group adopted a new approach, using a systematic logical framework to describe each stage in the pathways of transmission of the organism from animal to human case. This has provided strategic direction for the wide range of key partners to collaborate on the implementation of practical recommendations that aim to reduce the risk of infection based on current evidence of effectiveness. It also provides a comprehensive framework that will be used by the Action plan Group to monitor compliance with and effectiveness of interventions to control VTEC/E. coli O157.
I am grateful for the support of all participating agencies, in particular Health Protection Scotland, who co-ordinated the drafting of the report, for their efforts. I have accepted those recommendations which fall on the Scottish Government to carry out, and I will be looking to the other agencies involved to ensure that consistent and effective action is taken to deliver those actions for which they are responsible.
Michael Matheson MSP
Minister for Public Health
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