E. Coli Contamination of Cucumber and Fresh Vegetables Claimed 16 Lives in Germany, Sweden Outbreak Feared in Europe

By on Jun 1, 2011 in Europe, Health, Science Comments

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An Escherichia coli or E. coli contamination of cucumber and fresh vegetables has caused the demise of 16 people from Germany and Sweden leaving more than 1,000 people infected. Similar cases also occurred in U.K., Denmark, Netherlands, France and Switzerland. This has been reported by international news sites, May 30 & 31, 2011.

Germany had first pinpointed Spain as the source of the E. coli contaminated cucumber, but tests performed revealed that the strain found in the Spanish cucumbers was not the same as the strain causing the mortality. Vegetables were included in the health warnings as they could also be potential sources of E. coli contamination.

The strain responsible for the contamination was the enterohemorrhagic E. coli, which can produce serious health complications; it affects the blood and can cause inflammation of the colon with profuse bleeding (hemorrhagic colitis), hemolytic anemia leading to kidney failure and central nervous system disturbances.

Escherichia coli is usually harmless but some strains like the enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli is pathogenic with several serotypes like O104. This strain of  E. coli has the ability to produce Shiga toxins which can be found in the intestines of majority of animals.

Reports further stated that Spain complained that the ban imposed by Russia and other countries have caused the loss of €200m every week. In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute is further investigating the cause and source of the cucumber E. coli contamination. Meanwhile, European eateries have stopped serving fresh vegetables and cucumber as their customers prefer not to eat them.

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