· ·

Deadly E. coli outbreak alarms Germany

deadly-e-coli-outbreak-alarms-germany

A deadly outbreak of the E. coli bacterium has claimed several victims in Germany, authorities confirmed Tuesday. A life-threatening form of the bacteria E. coli has spread across much of Germany, with scores of patients seriously ill in hospital. The bug claimed its first victim over the weekend, health officials confirmed Tuesday.

The deaths follow reports that at least 140 people had fallen ill after becoming infected over recent weeks. Health officials said an 83-year-old woman from the northern state of Lower Saxony died Saturday after having suffered since May 15 with the bacteria.

There were two more deaths in which E. coli was a suspected cause. A young woman in the city-state of Bremen also died overnight Tuesday, but officials there were unable to immediately confirm the presence of E. coli in her system. They said, however, the woman had been exhibiting typical symptoms of E. coli infection.

Another woman over 80 years old in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein died after being infected, although state health authorities said they have not yet confirmed that E. coli was the cause of death.

 

German health authorities have registered over 400 confirmed or suspected cases of a rare and potentially lethal bacterial disease since mid May. The reports represent a dramatic rise in comparison with the last ten years, in which 800 to 1,200 cases occurred annually.

The condition is caused by a strain of the bacterium E. coli – enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) – which is often foodborne and can lead to severe digestive problems.

While an average case runs its course in around a week, acute instances of the ailment can lead to kidney failure and even death. Symptoms generally take several days to show up after individuals come in contact with the EHEC bacteria. Both the rash of reports and the severity of the outbreaks in May has alarmed public health officials.

 

Source still unknown
Health officials and scientists are working hard to isolate what is causing this year’s outbreaks while advising customers to exercise extra caution in selecting and cleaning the foods they consume. Hamburg’s Institute for Hygiene and Environment said unwashed vegetables could be the prime suspect based on information gathered from afflicted individuals, while sources like raw milk, cream cheese and beef that more often contain the bacteria seem unlikely to have caused the current epidemic.

“If fields are fertilized with liquid manure, then the EHEC bacteria can make its way on to salad or vegetables sold in supermarkets,” noted Werner Solbach, microbiologist at the University of Lübeck, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “These days, we have a lot of pre-packaged and prepared salads for sale that may contain the bacteria.”

Although generally children and the elderly are most at risk of infection, investigators have also noted an unusually high number of adult women among the sufferers this year, leading to questions about whether the source is in a product marketed more heavily to women.

So far, one death has been confirmed from this month’s outbreak.  A number of other patients infected with EHEC are currently in critical condition.

Vegetables haven’t been definitively identified as the culprit, stressed a spokesperson for the Robert Koch Institute stressed on Tuesday in an interview with the dapd press agency. As such, the organization recommends exercising extra caution when cooking meat and doesn’t rule out alternative infection sources like contaminated water.

The Institute added that new cases are continuing to be reported, and the source of the infections may very well still be active.

Widespread cases

The spread of the suspected infections has startled health officials, with two individuals in the central city of Frankfurt being placed on artificial respiration machines as the surge in the number of cases of Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), a new sub-strain, was reported across the country.

More than 40 of those confirmed to have contracted the infection, which can cause internal bleeding, diarrhea and kidney failure, and in some cases anemia, were said to be in a serious condition late Monday. Some 40 people were being treated in Hamburg, with cases also reported in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig Holstein states. Eight patients in Dusseldorf were reported to be “seriously ill” by regional health officials.

Authorities said that, in addition to the confirmed cases, more than 160 people nationwide were also being tested for the bacterium.

The outbreak, thought to have been spread through contaminated vegetables, is unusual in that it has affected mainly adults. Between 800 and 1,200 cases of EHEC are reported in Germany each year, but these predominantly involve children. (DeutscheWelle)

Author: Greg Wiser (dpa, dapd, AFP)
Editor: Cyrus Farivar

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.

Share:


Your support makes a difference

Dear valued reader,

We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.

The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.

If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.

Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Teo Blašković

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us on Patreon

support us on patreon

or by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.

One Comment

  1. Perdavid Nygren commented on The Watchers:

    A certain “Sofie Ivarsson” said today here in the swedish news (about at least 15 swedes infected by E-coli) this: “E-coli is all over “the country” (sweden)… but no one is infected.” They are saying that the E-coli is all over Sweden but… no one is infected. Intresting, no?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *