Escherichia coli: the bacterium affects other countries, perhaps the responsibility lies not with the cucumbers


Escherichia coli: the bacterium affects other countries, perhaps the responsibility lies not with the cucumbers

In Germany, according to the German Reuters news agency, the victims of Escherichia coli O 104 are now 14 and 352 cases of HUS.

The other novelty is the sure involvement of other countries. According to the factsheets published and updated yesterday by the European Rapid Alert System ( Rasff ), which remains the only official source able to collect the reports of all the countries, cases have been reported in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg and Spain.

In Sweden , according to the newspaper The Local , 36 people are affected by HUS, and the Swedish Institute for the Control of Communicable Diseases (Smitskyddsinstitutet – SMI) specifies that the people involved are citizens who have stayed in Germany, thus excluding the hypothesis of a spread of the disease in Sweden.

In Denmark , according to the National Serum Institute du Danemark, there are 11 cases registered in the country and there are 8 patients under observation who could be added to the list.

In France , the Institut de ville sanitari reports that 6 cases of adults with haemorrhagic diarrhea and that those affected have stayed in Germany in the last 15 days.

The Spaniards keep saying that there are no cases of HUS in their country and this would suggest that Escherichai coli arrived on cucumbers after arriving in Germany. 

There is another relevant novelty in this story . The German health authorities have confirmed that the epidemiological investigations on patients with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) point the finger at: cucumbers, tomatoes and salad as a vehicle of the infection. But confirmatory microbiological analyzes are still ongoing and it is suggested that there could be other causes.

In other words, the authorities have safely identified the responsible epidemic strain (Escherichia coli O 104) on patients, but the same strain has not been accurately isolated on cucumbers. There was initially a well-founded suspicion which, however, subsequent investigations have not confirmed. In the absence of this data, the situation is a bit stagnant and further developments are awaited.

“There is still uncertainty about the causes – specifies Antonello Paparella, professors of Food microbiology at the University of Teramo – perhaps it is worth remembering an episode that occurred 5 years ago in North America, where Escherichia coli O 157 due to a flood present in the drainage water of cattle farms, it arrived in the fields and contaminated the groundwater. In that case there were 2000 cases of people affected by infection and 20 deaths “.


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