Four suspected U.S. cases of E.coli linked to Germany

ATLANTA Sun Jun 5, 2011 4:51pm EDT

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - The number of suspected U.S. cases involving a deadly E.coli bacteria that has sickened thousands in Europe remained at four on Sunday, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman said.

"Right now there have been no reports of any additional suspected cases" in the United States, CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell told Reuters.

All four U.S. patients recently visited Hamburg, Germany, officials said.

The rare strain of E.coli has infected people in 12 countries. It has killed 22 people and made more than 2,000 ill.

German-grown beansprouts and other sprouts could be the source of the deadly outbreak, German officials said.

There are no indications the U.S. food supply has been tainted by E.coli, U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman Siobhan DeLancey told Reuters on Sunday.

However, as a safety precaution, the FDA said it was conducting increased surveillance of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and raw salads imported from areas of concern. But officials said countries in the European Union are not a significant source of fresh produce for the United States.

The CDC said three suspected cases of a type of kidney failure associated with E.coli infections -- hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) -- had been identified in Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin.

A fourth suspected case of diarrhea caused by the E.coli is under investigation, the CDC said.

Symptoms of E.coli infections include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

Symptoms of the HUS kidney failure, which usually develop a week after diarrhea begins, include decreased frequency of urination, fatigue and losing pink color to skin and membranes due to anemia, the CDC said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

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Comments (4)
TxCharlie wrote:
This is EXACTLY why we need to be irritating all fresh vegetables, fruit, ground meat, chicken, eggs, and other products susceptible to E.Coli and Salmonella with either ionizing radiation or high-powered ultraviolet light, whichever is more appropriate in each case.

This irritation is of the type that does not make foods or other materials radioactive, because it doesn’t use neutrons, which might cause certain elements in the food to become a radioactive isotope. The currently approved radiation such as Electrons, Gama rays , X-Rays, and Ultraviolet light simply do not do that, and at levels used do not significantly alter food chemistry.

It is junk science that tries to point out all the false problems that irradiation might cause, such as blaming a rash of pet poisonings on radiation, when it actually came from a poisonous fungus due to wet grain storage before the pet food was even irradiated – Because irradiation is at such a low level that it doesn’t alter food chemistry appreciably, by the same token it cannot destroy chemical toxins that are already present. Doing so at higher levels would also destroy the good chemicals in food, such as flavor, proteins, and vitamins, and that’s what scare tactics focus on – But they use the false premise that the radiation levels are extremely high. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Irradiation would nearly eliminate the danger of disease from food which is not grown , stored, or processed in the best of sanitary conditions. It is currently permissible on some foods, but commercial food producers are reluctant to use it, due to all the fear that the junk science against it has generated. Organic producers are least likely to use irratiation, even though careless organic growing methods can expose vegetables to uncured chicken and cow manure (there is no evidience that properly cured manure and compost has this issue, but in foreign countries we really don’t know whether they use cured manure or raw sewage).

In addition, it would increase shelf life of produce and ground meat, and reduce food waste in our house significantly – Being only two of us, it is unfortunately not uncommon that we forget about that box of strawberries we bought a week ago, which is usually passed the stage where it becomes white and fuzzy. If they were irradiated, fungus spores near the surface from the field would be killed. The strawberries might over-ripen eventually (at a slower rate), but the fungus wouldn’t take over and make them inedible so quickly.

Think of how fewer people would starve, if the United States increased the shelf life of all its foods, which would automatically reduce demand and make food cheaper and easier to store for poor countries too!

We already irradiate certain spices – Remember when spices used to get weevils , or get very stale-smelling in a year or two? That doesn’t happen anymore – We have 10-year-old spices in our cupboard which are as good as the day we bought them. Too bad our fresh produce often doesn’t even last a week.

Jun 05, 2011 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ajax666 wrote:
For as many times in the past, that sprouts have been the culprit not only for e-coli but salmonella as well, I cannot understand why anyone would eat them… Especially when their addition to any meal is so minimal.

Jun 05, 2011 5:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mo_Attorney wrote:
The near universal use of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics in livestock feed has lead to the evolution of these polyresistant bacteria. The only way to address the problem is to ban all antibiotics in animal feed and cease raising animals in conditions that make antibiotic use economically viable.

Shortcuts and biologically unsound practices in the agricultural sector have taken countless lives and the path is clear: we either reform our entire food / produce system to comport with the best biological practices or humans will have no effective antibiotics.

It has been less than a century since the first coal-tar derivatives provided us with “magic bullets” against bacteria. If our foolish misuse of these powerful medicines causes us to lose this advantage over bacteria we will condemn ourselves to return to the days of plagues and quarantines.

Irradiation would kill many pathogens, as suggested by another poster, but the industry has shown that it will take even more shortcuts with a new tool that obviates the need for safe and sound biological practices. Adding to the argument against irradiation is the need for construction of thousands of large-scale facilities to perform the irradiation of countless megatons of foods/year: facilities that would be ready-made targets for terrorists looking for cheap dirty bombs. The irradiation solution is fundamentally flawed on so many levels that it does not bear serious consideration.

Jun 05, 2011 5:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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