E.coli epidemic in northern Germany caused by consuming sprouts.

Further analyses by German health authorities of data from the epidemic caused by the rare strain of E.coli bacteria have implicated sprouts as the cause. This conclusion is based on the fact that ill persons were nine times more likely to have eaten sprouts than well persons. Although thousands of laboratory tests of sprouts from an organic farm thought to be the producer of contaminated sprouts have failed to find the bacteria, this can be explained in many ways. It may be that the original contaminated batch was fully consumed or discarded and that subsequent batches were no longer contaminated. It may be that the sprouts were contaminated during transport to market or during subsequent processing. Nevertheless, authorities are retracting their recommendations to avoid consuming salads, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Although the number of new cases reported daily appears to be declining, the total number of cases has reached 2,808 people, 722 of whom are suffering from haemolytic uremic syndrome that can cause kidney
failure. There have been 30 deaths.

Travellers to northern Germany should avoid consuming any form of sprouts in salads or sandwiches until the epidemic has run its course.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Food and Water Contamination.

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