• Germany's news in English
 

Alarm spreads as E. coli cases rise sharply

The Local · 1 Jun 2011, 15:35

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
Whiff of foul play in Cologne mayoral election
An electoral poster next to Cologne Cathedral. Photo: DPA

Whiff of foul play in Cologne mayoral election

7 hours ago

Did the Social Democratic Party (SPD) deliberately skew voting slips in Cologne's mayoral elections to hand their candidate an advantage?

Refugee crisis
Five ways you can help refugees in Germany
Woman bring clothing donations to a German Red Cross station in Heidenau, scene of anti-refugee demonstrations last weekend. Photo: DPA

Five ways you can help refugees in Germany

5 hours ago

The Local's pointers for how to get started if you're interested in donating your money, unwanted possessions, time or skills to help refugees in Germany.

FC Bayern takes refugee kids under its wing
Players will walk into the Allianz Arena hand-in-hand with young refugees on September 12th. Photo: DPA

FC Bayern takes refugee kids under its wing

4 hours ago

FC Bayern Munich said on Thursday that it would help young refugees learn German and play football and donate €1m of the proceeds from an upcoming friendly match.

Berlin hotel extends beds for basketball giants
Dirk Nowitzki (r) - too tall for a normal hotel bed. Photo: DPA

Berlin hotel extends beds for basketball giants

4 hours ago

The Berlin hotel hosting the international basketball teams playing in the 2015 European championships matches here have extended their beds to 2.50 metres in order to accomodate the giant players.

Migrant crisis
Hungary says refugees are 'German problem'
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (l) and refugees boarding a train at Budapest's Keleti station. Photos: DPA

Hungary says refugees are 'German problem'

8 hours ago

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Thursday the migrant crisis was a German problem, not a European one as he defended his government's handling of thousands of refugees flooding into his country.

Banks jack up ATM fees for non-customers
Photo: DPA

Banks jack up ATM fees for non-customers

9 hours ago

Germany's big private banks are increasing fees for customers at other financial institutions to withdraw cash from their ATMs, making ordinary people pay the price for a bankers' spat.

Berlin mayor christens brand-new U-Bahn trains
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller smashes a bottle of Berliner Weisse beer against the metal skin of a new U-Bahn train to christen it. Photo: DPA

Berlin mayor christens brand-new U-Bahn trains

11 hours ago

The first of an all-new model of Berlin U-Bahn trains was christened on Wednesday evening by city mayor Michael Müller in a typically Berlin ceremony.

Migrant crisis
Biggest EU nations want refugees shared fairly
A man leads migrants in a chant in front of police lines at Budapest's Keleti railway station on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Biggest EU nations want refugees shared fairly

11 hours ago

Germany, France and Italy called for an overhaul of laws on the right of asylum and a fairer distribution of migrants throughout the European Union, Italy's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The Local List
7 ways Germans get English totally wrong
Don't let their confidence fool you: Germans aren't always the best at English. Photo: DPA.

7 ways Germans get English totally wrong

1 day ago

As much as English-speakers might feel insecure about their Deutsch skills when faced with Germans' comparatively widespread grasp of English, Germans themselves often mess up English - in some pretty hilarious ways.

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger at a press conference earlier this week. Photo: DPA

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees

1 day ago

Germany's World Cup-winning footballers have condemned xenophobic attacks on the thousands of foreigners pouring into their country and led calls to help the refugees amidst the ongoing crisis.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
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
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

6,984
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd