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Crisis team meets as E. Coli death toll hits 13

The Local · 30 May 2011, 17:31

Published: 30 May 2011 08:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 May 2011 17:31 GMT+02:00

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The latest victim was identified by officials as a middle-aged woman from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Protection of the public remained “clearly the top priority,” said German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner before she gathered with state government representatives for discussions in Berlin at the public health authority the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

There were signs the government was still struggling to control the repercussions of the outbreak that has affected more than 1,200 people, mostly in the north of Germany.

Health experts warned that illnesses and deaths were likely to continue rising in the near term. They emphasized that the source of the outbreak was still unclear, although Spanish cucumbers were suspected of being at least partly responsible.

“At the moment, we can't reliably say what the actual source of contamination is," said RKI director Reinhard Burger.

Many German supermarkets and shops have removed all Spanish-grown vegetables from their shelves, but the Russian government on Monday banned all vegetable imports from Germany and Spain.

People who ingest E. coli may take up to 10 days to become ill. The most severe cases of ingestion lead to haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that can result in acute renal failure, seizures, strokes, coma and death.

Hamburg has been particularly hard hit by the health crisis, with hospitals in the northern port city inundated by the sick.

Eppendorf University Hospital Professor Jörg Debatin said: “The clearly progressing course of the illness has us worried. We have to be prepared to lose even young patients.”

Nearly 60 patients with HUS were being treated at the hospital said neurologist Rolf Stahl on Monday.

"About a third have lost all kidney functions" and have had to be put on dialysis, he added.

The hospital said the number of patients being admitted was dropping, but it warned of possible new cases because of HUS’s long incubation period.

By Saturday, more than 467 cases had been registered in Hamburg. Daily Bild reported that 30 of these cases were critical.

Story continues below…

Despite an overall sense of confusion about the outbreak’s source and severe criticism from farmers, authorities continued warning people against eating raw vegetables on Monday.

The Spanish government expressed alarm at damage being done to its farming sector and requested a “response” from the European Union.

“We will also ask Germany to assume its proper responsibility," said Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguila.

DPA/DAPD/AFP/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:39 May 30, 2011 by William Thirteen
no one expects the Spanish Indigestion!
17:46 May 30, 2011 by The-ex-pat
11:39 May 30, 2011 by William Thirteen

Nice one centurion..................
18:05 May 30, 2011 by harcourt
11:39 May 30, 2011 by William Thirteen

After his infantile remark ( people have died ) I assume thirteen refers to his age !!!
19:38 May 30, 2011 by The-ex-pat
18:05 May 30, 2011 by harcourt,

You are right, 11 people have died, but so what, 30000 die each year in German hospitals due to MSRA. Where is the media attention about that, why are our politicians not asking questions about it? Oh and get a sense of humour!
21:03 May 30, 2011 by tXarlos
By all means quarantine suspect produce, however,

it seems significant that E. coli O104 => HUSEC

has not been detected in Spain (yet).

Where did the O104 come from?

It would be good to hear from Münster¦#39;s Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome lab (www.ehec.org Konsiliarlabor für Hämolytisch­ Urämisches Syndrom).
23:34 May 30, 2011 by rosenthalenglish
We have had quiet a few terrorists from the Hamburg area.Now lets just say they had a couple of Al Qaeda terrorists who were testing bacterial warfare in Northern Germany.They could have infected a few things deliberately just to see 1)that it works 2)To try and scare the population. If it is "Spanish cucumbers" to blame why the ban on all raw vegetables from everywhere?What are we not being told?
06:21 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
The ex-pat

"11 people have died but so what!!" I think this tells us a lot - and its NOT that you've got a great sense of humour
07:57 May 31, 2011 by The-ex-pat
06:21 May 31, 2011 by harcourt

It may not be great, but at least I have one!
08:21 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
the ex-pat

At least we can agree on one thing - your sense of humour is not great - probably on the same infantile level as William Thirteen
08:36 May 31, 2011 by azinzuvadia
This is scary. I did not expect this in Germany - even in my dreams.
10:15 May 31, 2011 by moistvelvet
"Spanish indigestion" ROFL nice one William thirteen, nice one :-D

@The ex-pat, 13 deaths comapred to 30,000 MRSA deaths!! You make a very good point, again something is being blown way out of proportion.
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