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Friday, February 17, 2012

E coli outbreak

E coli outbreak

German Health Officials still don’t have proof about the source of the infectious E. Coli disease that continues to get people sick.
18 people have died so far because of the outbreak. More than 1,500 people have been infected and some of them suffered from a life-threatening kidney complication.

Local media is speculating about the point of origin of the E. Coli disease. One local restaurant in the northern German city of Luebeck had some infected diners last month. Others believe it first spread at a festival in the northern city of Hamburg that had over one million people in attendance.

The current E.coli outbreak is the deadliest in modern history with a majority of those infected being females.

According to a Fox News article, panic is already spreading throughout Europe. Russia has already banned vegetable imports. In addition, the United Arab Emirates is banning cucumber imports from parts of Europe.

To avoid illness, the World Heath recommends that people wash their hands, keep raw meat separate from other food, cook food completely, and wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
Washington, June 12 : Two isolates from the current E. coli (Escherichia coli) outbreak in Germany have been sequenced and analyzed in laboratories.

Both strains are now available from Virginia Bioinformatics Institute''s (VBI''s) Pathosystems Resource Integration Center (PATRIC).

In the rush to save lives, many laboratories are analyzing these genomes and providing data to the research community.

The two genomes have been annotated with Rapid Annotation using Subsystem Technology (RAST), making them consistent with the 184 E. coli genomes and the total 2,865 bacterial genomes available at PATRIC.

The proteins conserved across all E. coli have been used to generate a preliminary phylogenetic tree that is based on 166640 characters across 527 genes in 354 taxa.

This tree shows that the two new strains are most closely related to the pathogenic, enteroaggregative strain 559899, which may give additional insight into its origin.

“The PATRIC team is working around the clock to help the scientific community address this emergency. Analyses such as these provide insights into the origin of highly pathogenic strains and potential response strategies,” said Bruno Sobral, PATRIC''s principal investigator. (ANI)
The vegetables suspected to be at the centre of the E coli outbreak are cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes: all parts of a healthy diet. Ironically, this may also explain why young women seem to be disproportionately affected by the bug.

In the vast majority of outbreaks, most victims are the elderly or children, whose immune systems may be either weak or underdeveloped. But in the case of the German E coli strain, around three-quarters of the 1,800 infections and at least 13 of the 19 who have died so far have been adult women.

Experts are unclear why. Bob Adak, head of the UK Health Protection Agency's food section, said: "We can't say with complete certainty why women have been disproportionately affected, but in previous outbreaks around the world associated with salad vegetables we have seen women and adults more severely affected than men and children, so it's possible that this could be an indicator of food preference."

The idea that the preponderance of women could simply be the result of generally better diets among young women was supported by Stephen Smith, a clinical microbiologist at Trinity College, Dublin. He speculated that "it may be reflective of their healthier lifestyle - ie consuming more salad vegetables."

Another possibility is that the specific strain spreading from Germany finds something about women's guts more hospitable. This selective phenomenon would not be unprecedented since many bugs disproportionately affect people from different races or who come from particular geographical regions.
Alone in Germany more than 1,200 people are infected with the bacteria. Several other European nations like Denmark, Czech Republic etc have also registered cases of E. coli. The largest E. coli outbreak has worried tourism industry in Germany.

Tour Operators are worried that tourists may skip Germany due to the fear of E. coli outbreak. If the situation worsens then some countries may very well issue travel advisory for Germany that could potentially harm the tourism industry.

The fear is no longer limited to Germany, tour operators in other countries are also worried about the E. Coli situation. The outbreak could very well hit tourism in entire Europe. If governments in Europe failed to curb the outbreak then scared tourists may very well boycott Europe until the situations calms down.

Let us know what do you think. Are you going to cancel or postpone your trip to Germany or any other European country due to the E. coli outbreak. Post your views in comments.

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