There have been 96 VTEC cases in the last 10 days

The HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre has advised people to take extra care when handling and preparing food.

It follows an increase in the number of VTEC (E.coli) infections.

VTEC is a type of E.coli that can live in the gut of healthy cattle and sheep.

It's a common cause of food poisoning which can lead to serious complications.

The HPSC is advising people to always wash their hands before and after handling food, wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating them and always ensure minced meats are cooked all the way through.

This high magnification, digitally-colourised picture shows a growing cluster of Escherichia coli bacteria | Image: CDC/ National Escherichia, Shigella, Vibrio Reference Unit at CDC

A study carried out in Ireland in 2013 showed that raw minced beef burgers and minced beef samples from retail and catering premises were contaminated with VTEC, which was detected in 2.5% of samples.

Eating meat - especially minced beef - that's not been thoroughly cooked to kill these bugs can cause food poisoning.

Minced meat burgers should be cooked to a core temperature of 75°C.

VTEC can also be found in the stools of an infected person - and can be passed from person to person if hygiene or hand-washing habits are inadequate, the HSE says.

There have been 96 VTEC cases in Ireland in the last 10 days - over three-times as high as this time last year.