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'We shouldn’t panic. We can actively do something to fight this'

Moises Mendoza · 24 May 2011, 15:52

Published: 24 May 2011 15:52 GMT+02:00

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So how big a deal is this? Should we be panicking right now?

The most important are two things. First of all you should not eat any raw meat. The food you eat should be fully cooked. Kitchen cleanliness is also important. When all those things are taken together, there should be little chance of an infection. The second thing is if you get sick and have diarrhoea and the diarrhoea is bloody then you should go directly to a doctor. We shouldn’t panic. We can actively do something to fight this.

So what exactly is E. Coli? I thought it was all around us all the time.

There are several variants of E. Coli. Most are harmless. But these are not normal variations, they are highly pathogenic sickness-causing bacteria meaning they have particular effects that other E. Coli variants do not.

What about meat that you might buy in a can? Like corned beef for instance?

The point is, is the meat raw or not? Corned beef in a can, for instance, goes through a preparation process beforehand. As a rule, I could not imagine that you would get E Coli from canned meat.

Do we know where this is coming from?

I personally have no idea. The health experts that are now talking to the patients have the best idea right now. There are standardised questions they ask patients about what they have eaten and done in the last few weeks. And then they ask the same questions of people that did the same thing at the same times but are healthy and then they look for differences and perhaps find food as a source. It is difficult to say if a source will ever be found.

Are particular types of people especially at risk from E. Coli?

Typically it’s children, children up to five years-old. And that’s why we say you should never ever offer raw food to small children. Obviously there are also high risks with people like diabetics or very old people who are generally risk groups, not specially for E. Coli but in general.

Health authorities say women are being hit particularly hard by this outbreak. Any particular reason for this?

Story continues below…

I’ve also seen this in the media but it’s all just speculation at this point. Some say that this is perhaps because, in general, more women cook, so they may have more contact with raw food. But it’s really just speculation.

Anything else important to say?

Kitchen cleanliness is the most important. And then, if people have bloody diarrhoea, they should go very quickly to the doctor so the doctor can do a stool test. There, the doctor can look for evidence of infection. That’s the only way to make a firm diagnosis.

Moises Mendoza (moises.mendoza@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:38 May 24, 2011 by ame64
Panic.....well thats something that happens a lot in Germany at the moment. Panic about Nuclear power plants, the bird flu, BSE, Swine flu and so on.

Considering how many people die in Hospital every year, from infections they caught in the hospital, this handful of people is really nothing to go nuts about.
18:36 May 24, 2011 by karenandklaus
Not surprised here either. Coz I've witnessed MANY women not washing their hands after using the toilet.
19:33 May 24, 2011 by Lachner
After surviving the swine flu in Central America, which affected thousands of people, I can assure you that all people need in order to avoid infection, is to follow basic hygiene rules and common sense. 1) Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat, 2) use hand sanitizing gel constantly when in public places (bus, train, plane, etc.), 3) wash your vegetables thoroughly, 4) cook your eggs, meats, poultry and fish well, and 5) avoid going to places with high concentrations of people until the virus is controlled by the local health department. Other than that, relax!

No need to panic people!
21:40 May 24, 2011 by cobalisk
nobody is panicking when I am in Lower Saxony. I had a scheduled appt with my doctor yesterday and the patient traffic was normal.

In fact, claims that Germans are panicking all the time about various things like nuclear power or bird flu is absurd.

People can disagree, people can vote out old parities and vote in new parties and people can protest, that is not panicking.
07:36 May 25, 2011 by lordkorner
I believe the source of the infection is the practice of combining peanut butter and jam,however I may be wrong and I'm sure there is no reason for the average American out there to start panicking yet.
17:45 May 25, 2011 by wenddiver
A good American diet would kill anything living in your body, try living on Marshmellos, Fench Fries, lime Jello, Coca-cola, chocolate syrup, potato chips, whiskey, Bar-b-Que, hamburgers, cheeze whiz. If that doesn't work double the amount of cigarettes and Energy drinks you consume. Coat the whole mess with Penecilin and Pepto-bismo, you should be fine.
10:09 May 26, 2011 by annan1063
As an American, I assured my German husband that I should be just fine as I consumed the typical American diet for the majority of my life...therefore, I am sure I have built up a stong tolerence and immune system....and yes, I am having a salad again tonite for dinner.
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