VICTIMS of the E coli outbreak have criticised Public Health England for not doing more to publicise the risks of the bug.

A Bournemouth woman who contracted the disease, two mothers whose children were desperately ill and a grandfather of a girl currently seriously ill in hospital have all said PHE was wrong not to tell people about the outbreak.

A total of 10 people – all Dorset residents or people who have visited the county – have contracted E coli since July, with the latest case being last week.

PHE stressed it had thoroughly investigated each and every case but had not been able to find any common source between the cases in July and August.

It said it had not told any of the victims their cases were closed but that activity would have slowed because of the lack of any common factor between cases.

But victims and relatives are still unhappy with the way the PHE has handled the issue.

The grandfather of a three-year-old Blandford girl, currently battling E coli in Southampton General Hospital, said: “Why does it need a newspaper to get involved for PHE to do something?

“They could have let people know about the symptoms and what to look out for weeks or months ago.”

He said his granddaughter had been in theatre for an operation on Wednesday and was now back on dialysis. “We are just keeping everything crossed at the moment. It’s so heartbreaking to walk in and see her hooked up to all these machines.”

Gabrielle Archer, whose son Isaac Mortlock was among the first victims of the current outbreak, said: “I’m devastated to hear that these other children are now suffering and going through the daily blood tests and dialysis that Isaac had to go through.

“I feel that perhaps had Public Health England taken this case a bit more seriously that might not have happened. Had they put it out there and made people aware of the risks and symptoms, perhaps they might be okay.

“It’s spread round so quickly. You need to be aware, you need to know how important it is to be washing your hands.

“It’s not nice being in a room thinking your child is going to die. I said at the time I couldn’t understand why they weren’t being more proactive, now there’s another seven cases.”

Isaac’s aunt Jessica Archer, who developed symptoms a month after Isaac, and Charlotte Fudge, whose son Freddy was the first to be affected, have also criticised PHE’s approach.

A spokesperson for PHE said they had been proactive but said this did not necessarily mean engaging with the media.

She said there were always cases of E coli and they were constantly promoting good hygiene as a way of safeguarding against it.

“PHE actively investigates each case when it occurs and follows up and screens any contacts/premises to identify possible carriage of the bacteria,” a statement said.

“This was completed for each case identified since July 2014. The cases in July and August had no common source and were not linked by any common factors.

“The next cases were identified in October. Some of these attend a nursery.

“All these cases were investigated in the same way and information was provided at that time to parents at the nursery with advice on how to reduce risk of infection.

“All cases and their close contacts have been extensively interviewed in an attempt to identify any possible common source but so far this remains unknown.

“E coli bacteria can be found in many different environments and this is why we routinely issue reminders about the importance of good hand hygiene and ensuring food is prepared and cooked safely.”