FAMILIES whose lives have been devastated by the dangerous E.coli bug have slammed Public Health England for keeping the public in the dark about the harmful bug and instead accusing devastated parents of ‘leaking’ details to the media.

They say it was Public Health England’s duty to inform the public of the infection outbreak and its devastating consequences earlier to prevent its spread - particularly because no source of infection had been identified.

Charlotte Osborne, from Bournemouth, whose son Freddy was just 21 months when his kidneys failed and he was in a medically-induced coma for five days after becoming the first child to be struck down with E.coli 055, said: “We’ve been treated like a statistic since the beginning.

“We feel the report confirms Public Health England did not take the initial cases seriously enough considering the outbreak was rare and had never been seen in England before and we’ve never received an apology for that.

“To say details of the outbreak were ‘leaked’ to the press sums up Public Health England’s arrogance. This was not just a standard case of E.coli or a dodgy stomach and a bit of diarrhoea.

“We thought Freddy was going to die and then hearing it had spread to a nursery without the public being made aware it even existed was disgusting.

“It suggests something has been made public that shouldn’t have been when surely the public has every right to know.

“The fact no source was found surely makes it even more important to raise awareness among the public to be vigilant. We will never know how many more cases there were before the Outbreak Control Team was set up who could have been linked to establish a cause.”

Nurse Jessica Archer and her nephew Isaac Mortlock, now five, were also left fighting for their lives in the summer of 2014. Today Isaac suffers with severe seizures, must be peg fed for 10 hours each night, has regressed to wearing nappies and will need a kidney transplant.

She said: “The truth is we weren’t treated as a priority until all the children at the nursery became ill. For us this has been hell made even worse by Public Health England keeping us in the dark and making us feel like an inconvenience to them every step of the way.

“They clearly want this all to go away but for us every day is a reminder of how devastating this infection is and how life will never be the same.

“We’ll never know if the outcome would have been any different if they’d have taken our cases more seriously and taken measures to warn the public. We can’t change anything now but all we want is lessons to be learned so as much as possible is done to prevent future outbreaks and avoid others from going through this total hell.”