Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An outbreak affects 400 people in Germany

An infectious outbreak that has spread throughout Germany from north to south in recent days, and affects about 400 people and has killed at least two elderly women, with other unsolved cases even fatal, health officials said. Detected last week in Lower Saxony, where the outbreak and recorded half a dozen German states, from Hamburg in the north to the Saarland in the south, with suspected cases in the Berlin region.

This is an outbreak of the strain 0157: H7 bacteria E. coli that can trigger a contagious infectious disease and medically defined as "renal failure, microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, tromocitopenia, coagulation defects and neurological signs variables." The first death was attributed to the outbreak of one to 83 years old hospitalized in Lower Saxony.

On Monday, another patient died in Bremen with a similar picture. In the Saarland three people hospitalized, including two emergency and two patients in Frankfurt are in a coma. The region of Hamburg is the one with highest number of cases today, forty, some serious condition. Medical sources in the region described as "very likely" spread from person to person.

So far there has been none. Potsdam and Berlin on suspicion of several affected cases. The bacteria E. coli (Escherichia coli) are part of the common bacteria in the gut of animals and humans. Most are harmless but some can cause serious illness. Symptoms of infection by bacteria of the type known as EHEC, STEC are diarrhea, possibly bloody, colicky, often without fever.

About 8% of patients develop the condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS, in English), which destroys the red blood cells and kidney failure occur. It is bacteria resistant to antibiotics as treatment with them may be counterproductive. Among the recommended precautions, hand washing, not eating raw or undercooked meat or unpasteurized milk or juices.

The current outbreak affects adults, although children are theoretically at risk. It is suspected that the source can be an organic food contamination by animal waste used as fertilizer. "The number of serious cases in a short period is unusual and so is the age group affected," said a statement from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.

"In the current case of adults, especially women, are being most affected," he says. Last year was recorded in Germany thousand cases of this disease, of which only two were fatal.

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