sábado, 28 de mayo de 2011
Germany E. coli O 104 Outbreak One of Largest on Record
The current events represent one of the largest described outbreaks of HUS/STEC (hemolytic uremic syndrome/shiga toxin E. coli) worldwide and the largest in Germany, with a very atypical age and sex distribution of the cases.
Official counts are in the hundreds, but many more illnesses are probably going unreported. It's safe to assume the actual count is well into four digits.
Most outbreaks of HUS, a life-threatening complication, in Germany and elsewhere are associated with E. coli O157:H7. This outbreak, however, involves another strain, E. coli 0104, which is rarely encountered.
Authorities are particularly alarmed by the high proportion of German victims hospitalized with HUS. Generally, only 10 percent of E. coli patients develop HUS, which is characterized by acute renal failure, haemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. In Germany, authorities report that more than 200 of the sick have developed HUS, and some reports put the figure at nearly 50 percent of the overall cases. This suggests that the German E. coli may be capable of producing high levels of toxins, making it especially deadly.
The high numbers of people showing up in emergency rooms suggested that "the source of infection is still active." Germany's outbreak has been extraordinary in that it has affected mostly middle-aged women--a group that typically less susceptible to the pathogen, nobody seems to know the reason.
The outbreak is also unusual in that it has developed very rapidly, and high number of cases affect adults (86% are in people aged 18 years or older), particularly women (67%), instead of the normal high-risk groups (infants and elderly people). The serologic test for the E. coli O104 strain is not usually available in the microbiology labs and that may well have delayed the identification process.
Fernando Fuentes Pinochet