German E. coli is New, Dangerous Mutant Strain

The German <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli strain that has killed 18 people and sickened more than 1,500 has been identified as new, mutant, and potentially deadly, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO, wrote MSNBC, initial genetic sequencing points to this new strain being a altered collaboration of two separate E. coli bacterium with “lethal genes,” which is likely why the outbreak in Europe has grown in scale and is considered dangerous. “This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before,” Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at WHO, said, quoted MSNBC. This emerging strain has, added Kruse “various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing.”

Most of those who have died as a result of infection with this strain were in Germany, one was in Sweden, and of those sickened, 470 developed a rare kidney failure complication. As of late last week, Britain’s Health Protection Agency said 7 people there were confirmed with the deadly, new strain and all reportedly visited Germany, noted MSNBC.

Regarding the evolution of the new stain, Kruse said “There’s a lot of mobility in the microbial world,” reported MSNBC. Kruse also noted that the new strain exhibited with characteristics that make it more virulent than other E. coli types and which might explain why it is affecting mostly adults and mostly women, said MSNBC, which noted that severe cases of E. coli poisoning tend to affect children and seniors.

Kruse also noted that mild cases are likely not being reported, which means the outbreak could be much larger. “It’s hard to say how virulent (this new E. coli strain) is because we just don’t know the real number of people affected,” she said, quoted MSNBC. To date, the outbreak has been deemed the third largest E. coli outbreak in recent global history and indicators point to it being the most fatal.

According to WHO, the pathogen has impacted 10 European countries and has resulted in two E. coli-related diseases: Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), wrote MSNBC. Also, to date, nine patients in Germany died of HUS; six of EHEC. “There are many hospitalized patients, several of them requiring intensive care, including dialysis,” the statement said.

Germany, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have been hit and all but two people sickened recently visited northern Germany, said MSNBC. In one case one of those sickened was in contact with someone who had visited the region, wrote WHO.

The outbreak appears to have started the second week in May, said federal health officials. The U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) is pulling and inspecting cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes grown by growers from Spain believed to be connected to the outbreak.

This rare strain of E. coli is a Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, or STEC and is multi-antibiotic resistance. Because of the outcomes for HUS—kidney failure and acute anemia—those sickened are treated with dialysis and other crisis treatments, not antibiotics.

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