Deadly E. coli found in Frankfurt stream

FRANKFURT, Germany (The Local) June 18, 2011 – The dangerous strain of E.coli that has claimed the lives of nearly 40 Germans has been found in a stream in Frankfurt, but authorities said there was no risk to the city’s water supply.

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A spokeswoman for the Hesse health department emphasized that E. coli had occasionally been found in the 30-kilometre stream before, and that it was not unusual for surface water to contain several types of bacteria. People are generally advised not to swim in streams and rivers in Hessen.

The ministries said there were various theories on how the E. coli got into the stream, though they added that the test sample was taken from near a sewage plant. While such plants generally have very high hygiene standards, authorities said this could not be ruled out as a possible source.

E. coli ‘passed from human to human’  

Doctors Shaken By Outbreak’s Neurological Devastation

(Der Spiegel) – At first, doctors were most concerned about the kidneys of patients with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli, or EHEC. In the past week, howver, it has become apparent that neurological side effects of the bacterial infection could be even worse.

The patient at the Hamburg-Eilbek Hospital describes to doctors how she first had diarrhea, and then grew progressively weaker to the point where she could no longer eat and barely make it to the toilet. When blood appeared in her stool, she became terrified.

Thanks to several dialysis procedures, she will most likely survive her case of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a particularly aggressive complication related to the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli, or EHEC, that has appeared in more than one-quarter of the patients infected by the bacteria.

Rolf Stahl, a nephrologist at Hamburg’s University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf, explains that, “Neurologists are being confronted with a totally new disease pattern.” Never before has an EHEC germ been as aggressive — and many consider this to be a new epidemic.

But the bitterest realization of recent days has been that the neurological conditions can develop not only in patients with full-blown HUS, but also in those whose platelet counts have been severely reduced — a much larger group of people. “Three weeks ago I would have said that 15 to 20 percent of the severe cases would develop neurological complications,” says Wertheimer. “Today I would say it’s about half.”  

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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