News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Rural communities warned of toxin producing bacteria

Media Release

July 31, 2018

Rural communities warned to be on alert for illness caused by toxin producing bacteria

Taranaki’s rural communities are being warned to be on alert for illness caused by bacteria carried in the intestines of cattle and other animals which can cause severe gastroenteritis in young children.

Taranaki DHB’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jonathan Jarman says “Taranaki has high rates of Shiga toxin producing E.coli (STEC), also known as Verotoxin producing E.coli (VTEC). Young children on farms with cattle are at high risk of catching this disease, with nearly half of cases ending up in hospital.”

August through to October is the peak season for STEC/VTEC, with the main symptoms being watery diarrhoea, blood in the diarrhoea, severe stomach pains and vomiting.

Other risk factors include drinking unpasteurised milk or untreated water, eating undercooked or contaminated food, swimming in water where you can’t see your feet and being in contact with people who have the infection.

Dr Jarman says “Young children with STEC illness are more likely to get a severe complication called Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) which could damage their kidneys. On average we get a child with this complication once a year in Taranaki.

We’ve already had one case in April where a very sick child ended up needing further treatment in Auckland.”

Dr Jarman says that the main source for these toxin producing bacteria was animal waste, but can also be found in places contaminated with animal waste such as muddy puddles near farm animals or animals drinking troughs, farm clothing and footwear, and in dogs and other farm animals going inside a house.

“Children under five living on or visiting farms with cattle and calves are most at risk from STEC illness. Anyone showing signs of the STEC infection should seek advice from their doctor or by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 before taking any medication for this illness as some may even make it worse,” he says.

One of the best ways to prevent infection is regular hand washing before eating, after helping out on a farm and after touching animals. Other ways to prevent infection include cooking meat thoroughly to kill any STEC bacteria and boiling untreated water and raw milk before drinking it.

STEC resources are available from Taranaki DHB’s Public Health Unit or online at

Key points:

• August through to October is the peak season for STEC/VTEC

• Symptoms include: watery diarrhoea, blood in the diarrhoea, severe stomach pains and vomiting

• Children under five living on or visiting farms with cattle and calves are most at risk from STEC illness

• The best prevention for the infection is regular hand washing

• See your doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you show any signs of STEC


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis Review: Reclaiming The N-Word - Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman

Black resistance to institutional racism in the US has a long, tangled, and traumatic intellectual history. Although we may have assumed much too easily that white supremacists like David Duke had become marginalised as a political force, in reality they never really disappeared ... More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Minstrel in The Gallery - Sam Hunt's Selected Poems

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Sam Hunt's poetry is its quality of urgent authenticity. Encountering this latest compilation, the reader is immediately struck by its easy accessibility, tonal sincerity, and lack of linguistic pretension ... More>>

A Matter Of Fact: Truth In A Post-Truth World

How do we convincingly explain the difference between good information and misinformation? And conversely, how do we challenge our own pre-conceived notions of what we believe to be true? More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: The Road To Unfreedom

Valerie Morse: Yale professor of history Tim Snyder publishes a stunning account of the mechanisms of contemporary Russian power in US and European politics. In telling this story he presents both startling alarms for our own society and some mechanisms of resistance. More>>


Doing Our Bit: An Insider's Account Of New Zealand Political Campaigning

In 2013, Murdoch Stephens began a campaign to double New Zealand’s refugee quota. Over the next five years he built the campaign into a mainstream national movement – one that contributed to the first growth in New Zealand’s refugee quota in thirty years. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland