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Friday, June 3, 2011

Killer bacteria hits 12 countries: experts

Article from Sydney Morning Herald :

" Twelve countries have so far reported cases linked to a still unexplained outbreak of a lethal bacteria that has claimed 18 lives, while a senior doctor in the German city of Hamburg, the epicentre of the outbreak, said the outbreak appeared to be stabilising.

"Countries continue to report cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC)," the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Europe division said in a statement, adding it had received reports of cases in 12 countries.

EHEC can cause bloody diarrhoea and potentially fatal liver damage, as well as full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney ailment.

As of June 2, 502 people in total had contracted HUS while 1064 had contracted EHEC, according to the WHO count.

An AFP toll compiled from national health authorities meanwhile showed more than 2000 people in total had fallen ill.

In addition to Germany, the epicentre of the outbreak where 17 people have died, cases of HUS and/or EHEC, had by Thursday been reported in Austria (HUS 0, EHEC 2), Britain (3, 4), the Czech Republic (0, 1), Denmark (7, 10), France (0, 6), the Netherlands (4, 4), Norway (0, 1), Spain (1, 0), Sweden (15,28), Switzerland (0,2), and the United States (2,0), the WHO said.

"All these cases except two are in people who reside in or had recently visited northern Germany during the incubation period for the infection (typically three to four days post-exposure), or in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany," it explained.

The health organisation said on Thursday the strain of a lethal bacteria was "very rare" and had never been seen in an outbreak form before."

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