By Ken Buben, President, FancyScrubs.com
Europe has been suffering from an E-Coli breakout feared to be from cucumbers. Scientists are scrambling to find answers as 10 people have died from this and hundreds have been sickened. Germany has been the hardest hit with as many as 20 patients who are very ill and in intensive care according to Professor Rolf Stahl, who works at the main hospital in the northern city of Hamburg, and says the death toll is likely to rise. Cases include the more severe hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare complication arising from infection associated with E. coli.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Sunday a bacterial outbreak in northern Germany was one of the largest of its kind ever reported worldwide. The outbreak is also unusual in that it has developed very rapidly, and an unusually high number of cases affect adults (86% are in people aged 18 years or older), particularly women (67%), instead of the normal high-risk groups, which are young children and the elderly.
Scientists believe this started from contaminated cucumbers and now fear it may be from other vegetables as well. Infectious diseases experts think the outbreak may be linked to cucumbers from Spain. The vegetables could have become contaminated with human or animal fecal matter either at their source, during transportation or in Germany. Scientists suspect tomatoes and lettuce may also be affected.
There are also concerns that this deadly bacteria can be passed from person to person. According to the World Health Organization “Regular hand washing, particularly before food preparation or consumption and after toilet contact, is highly recommended, particularly for people who care for small children or are immunocompromised, as the bacterium can be passed from person to person, as well as through food, water and direct contact with animals.”
Once again health workers should be vigilant on their hand washing, being sure surfaces are cleaned thoroughly and wear protective medical uniforms that now can self-clean and protect against germs spreading.