The alarmism about the Escherichia coli epidemic continues , favored by the story of the Italian venison salami and the story of the German tourist hospitalized in Merano for a suspected dysentery which later turned out to be completely unrelated to the German epidemic.
Alarmism is favored by the headlines of online newspapers and TV reports where it is suggested that the killer bacterium has arrived in Italy (Corriere della sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa…). These headlines create panic because the killer bacterium is located in Germany and cannot be moved as the contamination is local. The possible transmission from human to human is a hypothesis that is considered by microbiologists, but at this stage it is still very premature because the real problem is identifying the causes.
But let’s see the two episodes better.
The first alert was triggered in Austria on 3 June, when the health authorities reported the presence on the market of a venison salami produced in Italy containing Escherichia coli. The newspapers and the media react immediately and point the finger at the salami, but there is a detail unknown to most, Austria does not provide important details and most likely Escherichia coli does not cause bleeding and therefore turns out to be of a different strain than to the one responsible for the German epidemic.
The second alert goes off on the morning of Saturday 4 June when the agencies report the hospitalization of a German tourist at the Merano hospital suffering from suspected dysentery. Even if the tourist’s suspected dysentery were confirmed as a case of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, he would be one of the people who spent a few days in the Hamburg area in recent days and contracted the disease. According to the latest update of the World Health Organization there are 1,836 people seriously involved and 103 non-German citizens living in 13 countries. All but one of these people have one thing in common they recently traveled to the same area of Germany. The good news is that the number of new infections appears to have stabilized.
The denial on the causes of the German tourist’s dysentery comes two hours later but already the newspapers have headlined
All this must not create alarmism. It is absurd that the news of a venison salami or a German tourist hospitalized in Italy for dysentery could create a climate of food alert.
The Escherichia coli problem is serious, but only for citizens who live near Hamburg or who have been to that area and may have eaten contaminated food . Other European citizens are not involved. The epidemic is not caused by an industrial food, a vegetable or a fruit, but by a contamination of the food supply chain that took place locally (our experts continue to think of an occasional contamination of the mains water or of an admixture between waste water and drinking water).
There is no need to create alarmism and one must not be influenced by venison salami or a hospitalization of a German tourist visiting Italy .
It is worth underlining that the first tests carried out by the laboratories of the experimental zooprophylactic institutes on vegetable samples were negative and there are