1,800 hit by virulent E.coli strain

More than 1,800 people worldwide have been infected by highly toxic E.coli, with almost 200 new cases in Germany in the last few days.

Twelve counties are now reporting cases of the bug, which experts say is a very rare but virulent strain.



Some 18 people have been confirmed dead, with 17 of those in Germany, where the outbreak began, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).



Many more patients are in hospital, with several needing intensive care, including dialysis.



Around one in three of those affected have been hit by haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) - a deadly complication of E.coli which affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the central nervous system.



Seven people in the UK - three Britons and four German nationals - are being treated, including three for HUS.



All are from or have visited northern Germany, where experts are working to try to find the source of the outbreak.



Scientists believe salad vegetables and leaves may be the source, although WHO says the origin "of the outbreak still remains unknown".



The bug has now been identified in people in the Czech Republic, France and the United States, as well as Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.



Experts in Germany have said there are signs that the outbreak could be slowing but have warned more cases will arise.



It is already the third-largest outbreak involving E.coli in recent world history - and the deadliest.



In 1996, 12 people died during a Japanese outbreak, while seven died in a Canadian outbreak in 2000.



Last night, experts from WHO said the strain of E.coli was extremely rare and, although seen in humans previously, it has never been at the centre of an outbreak.



The strain is known to be resistant to many antibiotics, making treatment difficult.



Experts have been warning people to follow good hygiene, including washing hands after using the toilet and before touching food, to avoid spreading E.coli.



The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK has issued a warning urging people travelling to Germany to avoid eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy salad, including lettuce.



It has urged anyone returning from Germany with an illness, including bloody diarrhoea, to seek medical attention.



Analysis of the bug at the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) showed the bacterium is an enterohemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) O104 strain, but is a "new serotype - not previously involved in any E.coli outbreaks".



The most severe E.coli cases are usually seen in children and the elderly, but female adults appear to be the worst affected this time.



One possibility is that they eat more salad and fresh vegetables than men and children.

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there