July 11, 2011

First US Fatality From German E Coli Outbreak Confirmed

"¨The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services have confirmed the first American fatality tied to the recent outbreak of E. coli in Germany, according to a Sunday report published at the International Business Times (IBTimes) website.

"¨According to IBTimes reporter Elvira Veksler, the man--who was not identified--died as a result of kidney complications. In a separate Huffington Post report, it was revealed that the man was 65 and had visited the European nation where more than 300 people have fallen ill and 52 have died, sometime last month. His death was the first among the six confirmed US cases tied to the outbreak.

"¨"The OO104:H4 strain was born on a farm in northern Germany in organic sprouts of Egyptian fenugreek seeds," Veksler said, citing German health officials. "Spanish cucumbers were originally thought to be the culprits but that theory has been discarded. This specific strain of the E. coli virus has not been diagnosed since it appeared in one German child ten years ago."

"¨"The strain is extremely resilient because it is a fusion of E. coli O157, which produces the Shiga toxin, and enteroaggregative E. coli, which attaches itself to the gut and notoriously causes diarrhea in developing countries," she added. "The toxin causes hemolytic-uremic syndrome followed by kidney failure."

"¨Symptoms of the poisoning can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloody stool, nausea, and vomiting. The IBTimes reports that the most healthy individuals recover within five to seven days time, though the youngest and oldest victims are most vulnerable to the infection. Furthermore, Veksler reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending that people avoid consuming raw sprouts.

"¨Last week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a statement, in which they concluded that "one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt and used to produce sprouts is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks. However, it cannot be excluded that other lots of fenugreek imported from Egypt during the period 2009-2011 may be implicated."

"¨"Based on these findings, EFSA recommends to the European Commission that all efforts be made to prevent any further consumer exposure to the suspect seeds and that forward tracing be carried out in all countries which may have received seeds from the concerned lots," they added. "In this context, EFSA continues to advise consumers not to grow sprouts for their own consumption and not to eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they have been cooked thoroughly."


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