Just when we thought the identification of superbug NDM-1 in the New Delhi water supply was bad, there’s a vicious outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) in Germany, with suspected cases cropping up all over Europe.
Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, France and Switzerland have all reported cases of this rare strain, with Sweden so far having the only confirmed death outside Germany. Regional authorities report more than 1,200 infected so far, and at least 14 dead. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has described the outbreak as “one of the largest worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany.” The source of the outbreak has been traced to contaminated cucumbers, imported from Spain.
In typical human fashion, there is currently as much concern about the economic impact and laying blame for the initial contamination as there is for helping the infected victims. European authorities have offered the following advice regarding the bacteria: avoid eating raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce; wash fruit and vegetables before eating them; peeling or cooking can also reduce the risk of infection.