Tuesday 20 February 2018

More than 1,800 across globe have been infected

Jane Kirby

More than 1,800 people across the globe have been infected in a toxic E coli outbreak -- believed to be the world's deadliest. Some 19 people have been confirmed dead -- 17 of them in Germany, where the outbreak began.

Almost 200 new cases have been reported in Germany in the last few days, and people in 12 countries have fallen ill.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1,823 cases have been identified globally, including 1,733 in Germany.

Around one in three of those affected have been hit by haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) -- a deadly complication of E coli that affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the central nervous system.

Seven people in the UK -- three Britons and four German nationals -- are being treated, including three for HUS.

Experts in Germany said last night that there were signs that the infection could be slowing, but have warned more cases will arise.

The outbreak is thought to be the deadliest in recent world history, and is one of the biggest.

In 1996, 12 people died during a Japanese outbreak, while seven died in a Canadian outbreak in 2000.

Most of the recent cases were among people from northern Germany or those who have visited the area, where experts were trying to find the source.

Scientists believe salad vegetables and leaves may be to blame, although WHO says the origin "of the outbreak still remains unknown".

The bug has now been identified in people in the Czech Republic, France and the United States, as well as Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Last night, experts from WHO said the strain of E coli was extremely rare and, although seen in humans previously, it has never been at the centre of an outbreak.

The strain is known to be resistant to many antibiotics, making treatment difficult.

Irish Independent

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