Health authorities warn of EHEC symptoms

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Has the EHEC source of infection been discovered? Health authorities warn against eating sprouts

The cause of the EHEC infections seems to be clarified. The dangerous intestinal germs were most likely spread with the sprouts of a horticultural company from the Uelzen district, explained the Lower Saxony Ministry of Agriculture. If you experience typical EHEC symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor.

After speculating about various causes of the current EHEC infection wave in the past weeks, the Lower Saxony Minister of Agriculture has now named a horticultural company from the Uelzen district as the source of the dangerous pathogens. The sprouts grown in the company are said to have transmitted the EHEC germs. So the question of the cause of the increased infections with the new dangerous bacterial strain of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) seems to be about to be clarified, but the uncertainty among the population remains great.

EHEC infections: sprouts possible cause Although the cause of the infections with the new, particularly aggressive strain of the EHEC pathogen (HUSEC 41 / also O104: H4) could apparently be clarified, the uncertainty among the population has not yet subsided. Many are skeptical about the previous warnings about cucumbers and tomatoes, they do not know how to classify the new information from the Lower Saxony Ministry of Agriculture. The concern about an infection with the dangerous intestinal bacteria remains great. In order to provide the population with as much information as possible, the state health authorities, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) have compiled all questions on the subject of EHEC and the spread of current infections in the past few days. Misunderstandings and misinformation were not uncommon, as the timely publication of information on protecting the population was in part in conflict with the requirement for thorough research (see EHEC find on Spanish cucumbers). When it comes to the indications of the possible symptoms of an EHEC infection, however, the broadest possible education of the population was without doubt the right way, since the signs of the disease are otherwise relatively often misinterpreted as normal gastrointestinal flu in the initial phase.

Health authorities warn of EHEC symptoms The most important symptoms of an EHEC infection include severe diarrhea, which can lead to watery bloody diarrhea if there are further complications. Severe cramp-like abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting are further signs of a possible EHEC infection. A doctor should be consulted urgently at the latest when the watery, bloody stool occurs, since the so-called hemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) as a possible consequence of the EHEC infection can lead to considerable, potentially fatal, health impairments. Furthermore, symptoms such as kidney pain, increased liver function tests and urinary poisoning (uraemia) are not uncommon in the secondary diseases of EHEC infections. The new pathogen HUSEC 41, which is responsible for the current EHEC wave of infection, particularly often results in very serious illnesses. HUS has occurred in around 25 percent of the 2,231 EHEC infections currently registered by the RKI in Germany and, according to official information, at least 18 people have so far been proven to have died from the EHEC infection. In most cases, acute kidney failure as a result of HUS was the cause of the patient's death.

EHEC infection source found - caution nevertheless required Since the incubation period for an infection with the EHEC pathogens is between two and ten days according to the experts, the number of diseases can continue to increase in the coming days - although the source of the infection has apparently been clarified . Since the infected persons can also act as carriers of the infections, strict hygiene standards should continue to be observed - especially when contacting small children or immunocompromised persons, the RKI warns. According to the experts, even the smallest amounts of the pathogens are sufficient to trigger an EHEC infection. The RKI also recommends that the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment ( recommend eating. The RKI also asked doctors to seek EHEC evidence in the stool of patients who may be affected. If the EHEC infection takes a severe course of the disease and threatens HUS disease, the treating physicians should "closely monitor their patients and refer them to suitable treatment centers at the first signs of HUS," the RKI warned. According to the experts, the symptoms of "EHEC-associated HUS diseases" usually appear within a week after the onset of diarrhea. (fp)

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Symptoms of an EHEC infection

Image: Gerd Altmann,

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