Germany 'really worried' by E. coli outbreak

May 25, 2011

Germany's consumer minister expressed deep concern Wednesday at an outbreak of poisoning by dangerous bacteria believed to have killed three women and left hundreds ill.

"This is really worrying," Ilse Aigner said on ARD public television. "We do not know what is the source (of the poisoning) and we cannot rule out there will be more cases."

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national disease agency, more than 80 people have become seriously ill in the past two weeks after ingesting enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

Across Germany, mostly in the north, there are hundreds of other suspected cases, including some 200 in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, 100 in Lower Saxony, and in Hamburg close to 50.

Three women, including two in their eighties, are believed to have died as a result over the past week, although tests have yet to confirm this.

RKI head Burger on Tuesday called the recent number of recorded cases "scarily high".

Normally in a year there are around 1,000 EHEC infections and some 60 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening disease caused by EHEC infection.

According to the , HUS is characterised by and blood problems, with a of between three and five percent. It can also cause seizures, strokes and coma.

E. coli is commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless but some, like EHEC, can cause severe , resulting in several outbreaks in recent years.

It is transmitted to humans primarily through contaminated foods such as raw or undercooked meat and unpasteurised milk, as well as by animal faeces getting into water and food and by cross-contamination during food preparation.

Explore further: British Ebola nurse discharged from hospital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Suspected deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany

May 24, 2011

German authorities reported Tuesday three suspected deaths from a strain of the E. coli bacterium and warned more were likely because of a "scarily high" number of new infections.

Viruses can turn harmless E. coli dangerous

Apr 16, 2009

For her doctorate, Camilla Sekse studied how viral DNA can be transmitted from pathogenic to non-pathogenic E. coli. Viruses that infect bacteria in this way are called bacteriophages. Her findings reveal ...

E coli infection linked to long-term health problems

Nov 19, 2010

People who contract gastroenteritis from drinking water contaminated with E coli are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, kidney problems and heart disease in later life, finds a study published online ...

Recommended for you

Ebola mistakes should serve a lesson says WHO

6 hours ago

The World Health Organization's chief admitted on Sunday that the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve as a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future.

British Ebola nurse discharged from hospital

13 hours ago

A British nurse who contracted Ebola while working as a volunteer in Sierra Leone said she was "happy to be alive" as she was discharged from hospital on Saturday having made a full recovery.

Tide turning in Ebola fight after hard lessons

Jan 24, 2015

A top U.N. official in the fight against Ebola greeted just three patients at one treatment center he visited this week in Sierra Leone. Families in Liberia are no longer required to cremate the remains of ...

Just five Ebola cases left in Liberia: UN

Jan 24, 2015

The United Nations said on Saturday Liberia was dealing with just five remaining cases of Ebola, in the clearest sign yet that the country is nearing the end of the outbreak.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.