herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Relief abroad as Germany tracks down killer E.coli

CONTROL: Infection now unlikely to reach here

FEARS that a mutant strain of deadly E.coli bacteria could reach Ireland have been eased after German authorities discovered the source of the outbreak.

The highly toxic strain, which has claimed the lives of 22 people, has been traced to a small farm 70km south of Hamburg.

Bean sprouts grown on the farm are understood to be behind the outbreak which has affected 2,500 people worldwide.

Yesterday the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said that German authorities had informed them that the sprouts were locally grown and had not been exported.

The E.coli situation is continuing to be monitored by the HSE and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

German beansprouts are the likely cause of the E.coli outbreak that has killed 22 people in Europe, German officials have said.

Eleven people in the UK were among hundreds across the continent who were taken ill with food poisoning apparently linked to the bug.



Salads

Gert Hahne, the spokesman for the Lower Saxony agriculture ministry, said an alert will be sent out warning people to stay away from eating the sprouts, which are often used in mixed salads.

Mr Hahne said official test results have not yet conclusively shown that the Lower Saxony-grown beansprouts are to blame but "all indications speak to them being" the cause.

He said many restaurants where people ate before becoming ill had recently taken delivery of the sprouts.

However, he said there will probably not be any immediate lifting of the warning against eating tomatoes, cucumbers or lettuce.

There are 11 people in the UK with food poisoning apparently linked to the toxic E.coli outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

All are from or have visited northern Germany.

Globally more than 2,260 people have been infected so far. The WHO said 21 people have died in Germany as a result of the outbreak.

Up to now, there have been 15 deaths from HUS in the country from the 627 cases of the complication.

Another strain, enterohemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) O104, has caused six deaths in Germany, and there were 1,536 cases without HUS.

Total cases went up by 108 since the previous day.

Across the rest of Europe, there were 31 reported cases of HUS with one death in Sweden, and 71 EHEC cases with no fatalities.

This outbreak is thought to be the deadliest in recent world history, and is one of the biggest.

In 1996, 12 people died during a Japanese outbreak, while seven died in a Canadian outbreak in 2000.

The strain is known to be resistant to many antibiotics, making treatment difficult.

Experts have been warning people to follow good hygiene, including washing hands after using the toilet and before touching food.

In the UK, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is urging people returning from Germany with an illness, including bloody diarrhoea, to seek medical attention.

hnews@herald.ie

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