Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Strain of E-Coli Outbreak

The World Health organization has announced a new and virulent strain E coli claimed the life of 17 people and left 1.500 infected patients across Europe. Three infected British internationals  believed to have developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome. It is a rare and severe kidney complication that destroys red blond cells and can affect the central nervous system. A health official in Germany admitted the precise source of the disease may never be traced.

A microbiologist from the University of Aberdeen, professor Hugh Pennington, told the BBC that the outbreak was unusual because it didn't seem to be affecting young children. Records indicate that in the vast majority of outbreaks, most victims were the elderly or children. However, in the case of the German E coli strain, at least, 13 of the 19 adult women died of the new strain infection.  UK Health Protection Agency, Bob Adak, said that they cannot confirm why women have been disproportionately affected. Cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes were suspected to be at the centre of the E coli outbreak. Ironically, this may also explain why young women seen to be affected by the bug.

What's alarming is that this aberrant strain is resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics. The question lies where these resistance factors coming from? One nasty bacteria seems to have acquired a toxin from another nasty bacteria which resulted in an even nastier bug.  It's like producing two toxins that causes damage and lead to bloody diarrhea and damage tissues including the kidneys. Acute kidney failure is often a life threatening complication of normal E coli outbreaks.
In the recent news the E.coli outbreak in Germany already claimed its first child victim. A 2-year-old boy succumbed to the virulent strain in the eastern town of Hannover. The death toll for the outbreak is now at 37.

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