An urgent health warning has been issued in the UK after an E.coli outbreak was linked to 'nationally distributed food item'.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has stated that 113 cases have been reported which are "part of a single outbreak".

However, they did not give more details about the "food item" that was thought to be responsible.

The cases range in age from two years old to 79, with the majority of the infections in young adults, Sky News reports.

It has also been confirmed by the UKHSA that an unspecified number of people are being treated in hospital due to the outbreak.

Some people have been hospitalised by the current E.coli outbreakSome people have been hospitalised by the current E.coli outbreak (Image: Getty Images)

Where have the cases of E.coli been reported?

At the moment the UKHSA has broken down the cases in the UK as follows:

  • 81 in England
  • 18 in Wales
  • 13 in Scotland
  • 1 in Northern Ireland (for this case, evidence suggests that they acquired their infection while visiting England)

In a statement, the agency said: "Based on the wide geographic spread of cases, it is most likely that this outbreak is linked to a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items."

Darren Whitby, head of incidents and resilience at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said: "The FSA is working with UKHSA and relevant public health bodies to identify the source of the illness, which is likely to be linked to one or more food items.

"We always advise consumers and those looking after vulnerable people to ensure good hygiene practices are followed when handling and preparing food, regularly washing hands with soap and warm water and ensuring equipment, utensils and surfaces foods come into contact with are cleaned thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination.

"You should not prepare food for others if you have had symptoms, or for 48 hours after symptoms stop."

It is unknown at the time of writing what food item is thought to be behind the E.coli outbreak.

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What are the symptoms of E.coli?

According to the NHS Inform website, the symptoms of E.coli can include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and occasionally fever.

People usually notice symptoms around three to four days after they have been infected.

However, symptoms can start any time between one and 14 days afterwards

It is often transmitted by eating contaminated food but can also be spread by close contact with an infected person.