• Germany's news in English
 

Alarm spreads as E. coli cases rise sharply

Published: 01 Jun 2011 15:35 GMT+02:00

The new figures came as doctors in Schleswig-Holstein reported that the bacterial illness was also causing unusual neurological effects including epilepsy.

Seventeen people – one in Sweden and the rest in Germany – have now died from the virulent form of enterohamorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which can cause bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure known as haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

In the past day, the number of cases rose in Lower Saxony by 80 to 344, while in Hamburg another 99 cases were identified, bringing the total in the port city to 668.

“We are again seeing a clear rise in cases of people sick with EHEC and HUS,” Hamburg’s Health Minister Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks said. “The situation remains worrying and it is definitely too early to give any kind of all-clear.”

An 84-year-old woman who died on Sunday has now been identified as the 17th confirmed victim, the Lower Saxony Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

Authorities continued desperately to search for the source of the bacteria as Spain vented its anger over the earlier statements by Hamburg authorities that they had identified Spanish cucumbers as contaminated – a claim they have since retracted.

Spain said it was considering legal action over what it says are €200 million in losses for its farmers.

The official number of confirmed cases according to the Robert Koch Institute, the government’s public health adviser, stands at 1,064. Of these, 470 have become ill with HUS. All states are affected by three quarters of the HUS have been across northern states: Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

A worrying new dimension has been reported in Schleswig-Holstein – the worst-affected state with 121 cases. Every second patient being treated for HUS at the state’s University Hospital is developing unusual neurological complications, ranging from headaches to speech problems and up to epilepsy.

“We are observing unexpected characteristics to the illness with which we’re not familiar,” said Hendrik Lehnert, director of the hospital’s Lübeck campus.

Some 91 patients are currently being treated for HUS at Lübeck and the hospital’s other campus in Kiel, 23 of them in intensive care. The neurological problems were starting about three or four days after the HUS symptoms began.

The hospital’s doctors have changed tactics and begun using antibiotics earlier than they were before, said director Stefan Schreiber.

“We have learnt something,” he said, referring to knowledge gained from an autopsy on a patient who died, which revealed that the bacteria inflamed nearly the whole stomach and intestinal tract. “The bacteria live much longer that we previously thought.”

DAPD/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:33 June 1, 2011 by ambar
Distribution and main markets around Hamburg have been tested? The problem is located in the area and with this so incompetent politicians people should start praying
01:51 June 2, 2011 by ruby_18559
this is really creepy....could it be a biohazard accident or something?
15:29 June 2, 2011 by jbaker
Does E-Coli only come from mammal/animal feces? If this is the truth, than stop using water that is laced with fecal material on the vegetables.

You can grow your own vegetables or buy from a farmer that sells produce right off his/her grounds and is not prcessed in any way.

Vegetables,Fruits and Grains should be our primary food.

If you eat meat, buy that directly from the farmer and the chance of getting E-Coli is almost non-existant.
20:45 June 3, 2011 by jg.
"Does E-Coli only come from mammal/animal feces? If this is the truth, than stop using water that is laced with fecal material on the vegetables."

Then there is the use of animal manure as fertiliser to consider - including widespread use in organic farming. Contamination could also come from rats, mice, moles and other wildlife, which also carry e. coli.

Buying direct from a farmer will not give you meat or produce that is free of e. coli. However, e. coli in meat or other foods is killed during cooking - which is why salad foods are suspected as infection vectors in the recent cases.
Today's headlines
Fake plastic surgeon sentenced to 4 years
Christian B. sits in court where he was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for falsely presenting himself as a doctor. Photo: DPA.

Fake plastic surgeon sentenced to 4 years

A man who performed cosmetic surgery on more than 50 different patients using fake medical certificates was sentenced to four years and three months in prison on Monday. READ  

Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Photo: DPA

Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue

A doctor from North Rhine-Westphalia will face charges for negligence and bodily harm, authorities said on Tuesday – after accidentally sending a living woman to the morgue. READ  

'Straw hat' robbers leave flowers as calling card
Photo: DPA

'Straw hat' robbers leave flowers as calling card

Brandenburg police are searching for two men who held up a goldsmiths' shop, leaving a pistol at the scene - as well as a bunch of sunflowers. READ  

Small town family disappears without trace
Photo: Winsen and Harburg police.

Small town family disappears without trace

No one has seen husband and wife Sylvia and Marco Schulze or their daughter, 12-year-old Miriam, since Thursday. Helicopters and search dogs have failed to find any trace of the family, leading local media and police to wonder: Where are the Schulzes? READ  

German army takes over Mali mission
Ursula von der Leyen in Mali on Monday. Photo: DPA

German army takes over Mali mission

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited Mali on Tuesday on the day that the Bundeswehr (German army) takes over control of the EU-training mission in the troubled west African state. READ  

Somalia suicide bomber was German: reports
The blast in Mogadishu killed 15 people. Photo: DPA

Somalia suicide bomber was German: reports

Information from security circles in Mogadishu suggests the suicide bomber who blew up a five-star hotel in the Somali capital on Sunday killing 15 people was a dual-national German from Bonn. READ  

Ex-minister: Merkel's Greece policy is 'fatal'
Former German vice-chancellor and foreign minister Joschka Fischer. Photo: DPA.

Ex-minister: Merkel's Greece policy is 'fatal'

Joschka Fischer, former German vice-chancellor and foreign minister between 1998 and 2005, unleashed an uncompromising attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her Greek policy in an article published by newpspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday. READ  

Two court cases to test criminal links to Isis
Photo: DPA

Two court cases to test criminal links to Isis

Islamic State members in Germany have turned to petty crime and selling stolen artifacts to fund the extremist group's war efforts, reports Der Westen. READ  

Study: 1 in 5 big firms attacked by hackers
Photo illustration: DPA.

Study: 1 in 5 big firms attacked by hackers

One-fifth of Germany’s major companies has been attacked by hackers within the past three years, but companies are also not taking cyber security as seriously as they should, according to a study released on Monday. READ  

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets visa to Germany
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei shows off his passport, which was recently returned to him after four years. Photo: DPA.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets visa to Germany

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been given a visa to travel to Germany, he told AFP on Monday, just days after police handed him back his passport following a four year confiscation. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,083
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd