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POLICE

Update: Mother and baby die after taking medicine from Cologne pharmacy

Police released details Tuesday about a 28-year-old woman and her new born baby who died last week as a result of taking medicine from a pharmacy in Cologne.

Update: Mother and baby die after taking medicine from Cologne pharmacy
Police have warned that medicine containing glucose from the store should be brought to the nearest police station. Photo: DPA

The baby was born via an emergency cesarean section after the mother took a glucose mixture produced in the Heilig-Geist-Apotheke in the Cologne district of Longerich.

Another woman dealt with complications after consuming the same medicine, but stopped taking the mixture. Both cases were reported by a doctor last Thursday.

Police revealed at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the pregnant woman died of multiple organ failure. Though doctors attempted to save her baby by performing the emergency C-section, the newborn also died.

Possibly still in circulation

A toxic substance has been discovered within the glucose container at the pharmacy, and they cannot rule out the possibility of the poisonous substance still being in circulation.

Though the public were first warned about the poisonous solution on Monday, there have been no further reports so far of anyone having glucose from the affected pharmacy at home.

According to police spokesperson Ralf Remmert, the glucose solution was sold as a test for gestational diabetes (high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth).

These tests are carried out as standard procedure during pregnancy, according to the German Diabetes Society.

'I am stunned'

The owner of the pharmacy Till Fuxius told DPA that the deaths are a mystery, “I am stunned. I cannot explain it”.

The pharmacist is relying on the police investigation to provide answers, “I am a witness, not accused”.

For the time being, Cologne authorities have banned this particular pharmacy from selling self-manufactured medicines.

Investigators have warned against taking glucose-based medicines that were made by the branch as the police look further into the case.

“We are continuing to investigate at full speed,” said a police spokesperson on Tuesday morning.

However, he could currently not say whether the Cologne homicide commission, who have taken on the investigation, had been notified of other cases.

Police and city authorities stress that patients with medicine containing glucose from this pharmacy branch should hand them into the nearest police station. 

At the moment, other pharmacy branches do not seem to be affected.

On Tuesday morning, the Heilig-Geist-Apotheke remained in operation, reported RP Online.

Many of the current customers seemed unaware of the investigation, stated the newspaper. “If that's the case, then I find it highly unsettling,” said an older customer.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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