E-coli Outbreak in Germany

Jun 5th, 2011, 06:36 AM
  #1  
ira
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E-coli Outbreak in Germany

From the AP

"German hospitals overwhelmed with E.coli outbreak

Hamburg is the epicenter [sic] of the deadliest E. coli outbreak in modern history, which has killed at least 18 people since May 2. More than 1,700 people in Germany have been infected, including 520 suffering from a life-threatening complication that can cause kidney failure. Ten other European nations and the U.S. have reported 90 other cases, all but two related to visits in northern Germany...........

Hospitals in northern Germany are being overwhelmed as they struggle to provide enough beds and medical care for patients ........"


ira is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 06:40 AM
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Unless you were hoping to spend your vacation in a German hospital, this shouldn't be a problem for travel.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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Latest news:
Sprouts from lower Saxony are to blame.

http://www.abendblatt.de/multimedia/...Sp_807826c.jpg

Even if you would normally eat this when it's served, don't!
logos999 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 08:52 AM
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I can't understand why it took so long to pinpoint the source. It's not as if beansprouts are an everyday food item for most people.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 09:03 AM
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I just left Munich this morning and so far, I'm not sick. I hate cucmubers & bean sprouts, so maybe I'm safe. Any problems in Austria? I am in Hallstatt now.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 09:04 AM
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This is from Deutsche Welle at www.dw-world.de/dw/0,2142,266,00.html

"Investigators have focused their search on a restaurant in the Baltic Sea port city Lübeck where 17 guests have contracted the bug.

The owner of the "Kartoffelkeller" restaurant, Joachim Berger, told German public television that health inspectors were awaiting results on tests carried out at the premises.

"I have nothing to hide, I'm sure everything is in order with the restaurant," the 67-year-old Berger told Bild am Sonntag.

Health officials say a family, a group of Danish tourists, and several women tax-inspectors were among the 17 who ate at his restaurant on May 13 and thereafter fell ill. The guests who became ill were said to have eaten either steak or salad."
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Jun 5th, 2011, 09:05 AM
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Some restaurants put a few sprouts on their salads as a garnish.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 09:08 AM
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No problems in Munich or Austria except that it's difficult to buy Spanish tomatos or cucumbers.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 07:17 PM
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scatcat- this diseaes takes 3 days so please write back in that time!!!! Please enjoy Hallstatt. Sandra
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Jun 5th, 2011, 07:26 PM
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Innocent people are dead. Not something to joke about.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 07:41 PM
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sap
 
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tarquin: I was thinking the same thing. Why did it take so long to narrow down something as unusual as bean sprouts? You would think it would have jumped out like a big red flag.

And speaking of red, why were cucumbers the red herring in all this? Are all other veggies but sprouts cleared now, or is this only one avenue of possibility?
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Jun 5th, 2011, 09:00 PM
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hsv
 
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This is serious [email protected] (literally).

I'll try to state some facts:

1. Incubation time apparently is approx. 8-10 days. This explains to some extent why it's so hard to track the source as most people would have considerable difficulty to reconcile what they ate that long ago.

2. What's so dangerous about this is that the infection in quite a few cases is not limited to the intestinal tract, but that also kidney and brain damages can be side effects.

3. Patients having contracted this disease consequently are in a pretty bad state and it may not be easy to interview them in hospital about their food intake almost 2 weeks ago.

4. E.coli bacteria were detected on organic Spanish cucumbers which is why they got on the blacklist. It has turned out that this was a less dangerous strain of bacteria, though. However, it is still not advisable to consume them.

5. The latest potential source are indeed certain sprouts. Sprouts are not an unusual part of a diet at all around here. Many restaurants use them on salads - many only as decorative items. Again, this underlines why it becomes difficult to trace the source as not many people will consider the decoration when they try to reconcile what they ate 2 weeks ago.

6. There is still no way to pinpoint one certain source of infection and scarily infection by inter-human contact cannot be ruled out. A number of schools in Hamburg closed entire classes as infections became prevalent among pupils.

7. The specific bacteria strain appears to be unreceptive to antibiotics. Doctors and hospitals are fairly limited in their means to cure the disease that affects everybody and all age groups to a very serious extent.

8. I am in the area on business currently and I can only advise to take this extremely seriously. If you are traveling in the area, wash your hands regularly and possibly carry a hand disinfectant and use it regularly. Avoid fresh produce (I am fairly skeptical of fruit, too, as it often is sold next to the suspected vegetables). Any food you eat should have been heated for at least 12 minutes at above 70 degrees Celsius - as only then the bacteria would have been killed.
I personally know someone affected: This is a life changing disease to a definitely undesirable extent.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 11:26 PM
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Thank you for the explanation - it makes sense now. I hope you stay well, hsv.
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Jun 6th, 2011, 01:11 AM
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All excellent points. The fact that this particular strain of e.coli is so very resistant to known antibiotic treatments is most troublesome. Someone in my state who traveled to Germany is ill here, in hospital, in critical condition. This type of infection is nothing to be played with and can very well shut down kidneys and other organs permanently.

From my understanding of the story, it definitely is sprouts and other vegetables are not "suspected" in this outbreak. There is an ongoing investigation into precisely how the contamination occurred, as the method of transporting the sprouts as well as where and how they were grown is now suspect.
Dazedandconfused is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 01:27 AM
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i wonder why the Germans were accusing Spain at first place.... and this fact has certainly affected tourism to Southern Spain....
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Jun 6th, 2011, 01:42 AM
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and this fact has certainly affected tourism to Southern Spain....


I suspect that it has had a rather greater effect on Spanish farmers....
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Jun 6th, 2011, 02:20 AM
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Why is it so difficult to track down? As stated, because people don't remember what they eat and when they atr it. As an excercise, try and remember everything you ate between Friday 27th and Sunday 29th May.

Years ago, there was an outbreak of food poisoning at a conference of environmental health professionals in the UK (these are people who fully understand the necessity of good data collection because it is what they routinely do as part of their day job) Over 25% of them claimed to have eaten Ice cream at the conference dinner, even though there was no ice cream on the menu.

If you have contamination of a common food product that might be sold through a supermarket chain, it is extremely difficult - particularly in cases of salad vegtables with a short shelf life - all may have already been eaten or disposed off by the time the first cases show up.

People should not panic about E.coli, I can almost guarantee that every Fodorite is carrying several strains of the bacterium.

The German outbreak version is not known to have been previously associated with an outbreak, therefore it is unlikely that routine laboratories would have had any way of associating it with the outbreak.

As to the Spanish cucumbers, If it is suspected that a vegtable is contaminated with a deadly pathogen, is it better to announce it and be proven wrong, or too keep quiet until sure (by which time you have probably several thousand more cases) ?
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Jun 6th, 2011, 04:25 AM
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hsv
 
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Again on the Spanish cucumbers: They were contaminated with E.coli. Period.
It wasn't the new and much more severe strain that can also lead to kidney and brain damages, but there was proven contamination with definitely unhealthy bacteria.
The whingeing about unjust accusations is just a strategy to divert attention and responsibility. These cucumbers should definitely not have been sold and it was perfectly legitimate to warn.

Also: The sprouts continue to be suspects of causing the current outbreak - just as other vegetables. The German Ministry for Health continues to warn of consumption of salads, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. In this case I believe it's better to err on the safe side.
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Jun 6th, 2011, 04:35 AM
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ira
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Thanks for a very informative and sobering post, hsv.

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Jun 6th, 2011, 04:40 AM
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ira
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From Reuters,
"German farm chief cannot understand E.coli inquiry
German officials said on Sunday his bean sprouts could be behind an E.coli outbreak that has killed 22 and made more than 2,200 people ill across Europe. The farm has been shut, produce recalled and further test results are due on Monday.....

Klaus Verbeck, managing director of the "Gaertnerhof Bienenbuettel," told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung ............I can't understand how the processes we have here and the accusations could possibly fit together. .....The salad sprouts are grown only from seeds and water, and they aren't fertilized at all. There aren't any animal fertilizers used in other areas on the farm either".
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