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Deadly E.coli outbreak claims ninth victim

The Local · 28 May 2011, 14:34

Published: 28 May 2011 10:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 May 2011 14:34 GMT+02:00

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The latest victim was an 84-year-old woman, who died on Saturday in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. This follows the death of an 87-year-old woman in the early hours of Saturday morning in Hamburg.

On Thursday night a 38-year-old woman died from haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). “The woman was delivered to us a few days ago already in a very critical condition,” a hospital spokeswoman in Kiel said.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, a further 276 people are suffering from the aggressive form of E.coli which can cause kidney failure. More than 60 new cases of HUS have been reported in the past 24 hours.

Most of the cases have been concentrated in the Hamburg region of northern Germany. The health minister in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Heiner Garg, said that the outbreak has probably not yet peaked, as there can be a 10-day lapse between infection and the first symptoms of the disease. Those who become severely ill suffer from internal bleeding, diarrhoea and kidney failure.

Meanwhile other cases have been reported across Europe and experts are now probing two agricultural sites in southern Spain, in Almeria and Malaga, suspected of exporting products, most likely cucumbers, tainted with E.coli, the European Commission has said.

"Investigations are ongoing to identify other potential sources, while a third suspect batch of cucumbers originating either in the Netherlands or in Denmark, and traded in Germany, is also under investigation," the European Union's executive arm said on Friday.

Fear of infection has lead many in Germany to change their eating habits. A survey carried out by Emnid for Bild am Sonntag has found that 58 percent of Germans are following the advice of the Robert Koch Institute and not eating raw cucumbers, lettuce or tomatoes.

The German state of Saarland has responded to the outbreak by banning the sale of all cucumbers from Spain. Some supermarket chains, including the giant Rewe, also said they had withdrawn all Spanish-imported cucumbers from their shelves nationwide.

Story continues below…

With the source of the outbreak still not confirmed, the Spanish authorities have complained about Germany’s handling of the health crisis. Josep Puxeu, Spain’s minister of state for rural affairs, says Berlin told the press about the outbreak of the deadly E.coli strain before informing the EU.

The Local/AFP/DADP/DDP/smd

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:07 May 28, 2011 by Bushdiver
Seems strange to me. They are investigating Spanish cucumbers and funny enough there are no reports of outbreaks in Spain. Either this strain only effects people residing in Germany or the RKI is picking at straws to determine the origin of this disease.
13:38 May 28, 2011 by AbhilashD
Many a time, that produce which is marked for export is never sold in the home country.

However, I do have a suspicion that this has got to do with hippie farming. Many Germans I've lived with do not wash vegetables before using them. "Bio" food is inexplicably very popular here and many people are taking up organic farming without proper training.
14:01 May 28, 2011 by sara_6
I guess this E.coli strain could be a deadly one similar to the O157:H7 outbreak in Japan in 1996 and during that outbreak the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare recommended the use of the antibiotic Fosfomycin, an inhibitor of bacterial cell wall synthesis which reduced the likelihood of developing HUS, hence I request the researchers at Robert Koch Institute working on this topic to check also on the Fosfomycin efficacy for this EHEC O104:H4 infection.
14:40 May 28, 2011 by Redwing
@AbhilashD While I agree with your first statement I think your second is plainly ridiculous. Most of the deaths have occurred in people in their 80s. Not many hippies among them, I am certain.
20:21 May 28, 2011 by AbhilashD
@ Redwing - I didn't mean that these people who died indulged in hippie farming. They could've bought the produce at a local farmer's market or at the local Rewe etc which offers Bio produce. I just find this nation's obsession with "Bio" a little ridiculous.
15:11 May 30, 2011 by andrea68
@AbhilashD - You must have been in every houselhold in germany?? Yes germans like to eat Bio but by far not first choice cause it is very expensive.. and if so..? What is the matter with eating healthy ..and why does that make anybody a Hippie?..

The fact is that E.Coli was found on cucumbers from Spain..

I am sorry but your accusations are ridiculous..

P.S. We do wash verggies and fruit..dont you??
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