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Saturday, June 4, 2011

1800 are hit as E.coli outbreak goes global

From Herald Scotland :

" MORE than 1800 people worldwide have been infected by a toxic new strain of E.coli which has now spread beyond Europe to affect a total of 12 countries.

Four more people in the UK have been diagnosed with food poisoning suspected to be linked to the outbreak, bringing the total number affected to 11. All the patients have links to Germany, where the outbreak began.

Some 19 people have been confirmed dead, 18 of them in Germany, and almost 200 new cases have been reported in the last few days in that country.

Public health professionals said there have been no cases in Scotland of the E.coli 0104 bug during the current outbreak, although part of the same strain was identified in a single case in 2005.

The Scottish Government’s disease watchdog, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), said Scotland was in an “excellent position” to detect any cases of the new strain.

HPS said enhanced surveillance methods introduced in 2001 to counteract Scotland’s peculiarly high rates of E.coli would be able to quickly pick up any sign of the latest strain of the infection.

The World Health Organisation has said the source of the outbreak remains unknown, but scientists believe that salad vegetables and leaves may be to blame and the UK’s Health Protection Agency is urging people travelling to Germany to avoid eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

Dr John Cowden, a consultant epidemiologist and expert in E.coli for HPS, said: “It appears to be the impression that [this version of E.coli] is causing more severe symptoms than what you might call the ‘normal’ strain."

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