E. Coli Spreads in Northern Germany

May 25, 2011 | healthmap | Outbreak News

An outbreak of a serious strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) is spreading throughout Germany, mostly among young females. Although most of the strains of E. coli are relatively harmless, the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strain is a particularly serious one because it can be fatal. EHEC is typically transmitted through contaminated foods such as undercooked or raw meat. EHEC symptoms include stomach cramping and diarrhea and eventually hemorrhagic colitis or bloody diarrhea.  If untreated, EHEC can lead to anemia and kidney failure. Germany authorities have confirmed three deaths from EHEC so far.  The first death was an 83-year-old woman in Lower Saxony who was admitted to the hospital on May 15th.  The second confirmed death was an 89-year-old woman in Schleswig Holstein.  Finally, the third victim was a 24-year-old woman in Bremenwho died on Monday the 23rd. Some investigators think that the reason why this outbreak is affecting more women is that it is spreading in contaminated lettuce. Ten people have been hospitalized in Frankfurt with another 50 experiencing mild symptoms. In Hamburg, another forty patients are being treated for EHEC as well. Other cases have been confirmed in the Northern part of Germany including Rostock, Lower Saxony, Bremen and Schleswig Holstein.  There are up to 600 suspected cases across Germany. Health Authorities are currently re-examining food deliveries and some company food canteens have been closed since Friday. People are strongly encouraged to wash their hands more than usual and to thoroughly cook all food.

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