|Epidemiological Alert: Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and infection by Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) (Published on 28 June 2011)|
Since 2 May 2011 and up to 28 June 2011, a total of 881 cases of HUS (32 fatalities) and 3,141 cases of non-SHU STEC (17 fatal cases) have been reported IN the European Union Member States.1
Since epidemiological week 23, the number of new HUS and non-HUS STEC cases has declined significantly. Nevertheless, the cumulative number of cases from Germany continues to rise, primarily owing to delays in notification.
Investigations by the German authorities indicate that the vehicle of the bacterium responsible for the outbreak, is bean and seed sprouts.
On 24 June, France reported a cluster of 8 cases, all adults (six women and two men) presenting bloody diarrhea. Seven patients developed HUS. In three patients, E. coli O104:H4 has been confirmed. Preliminary investigative findings suggest that locally grown sprouts might be involved. Intensive traceback is under way to identify a possible common source of the German and French sprout seeds. Other potential vehicles are also under investigation.
In the Americas Region
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of 23 June 2011, there were five confirmed cases and one suspected case of STEC O104: H4 infections. Three patients developed SHU. Five of the six cases, had prior travel to Germany, where they were probably infected and one resulting death.
Likewise, the Canada Public Health Agency confirmed a STEC O104:H4 case in a Canadian citizen with recent prior travel to the north of Germany.2
The Brazil Ministry of Health reported two suspected cases of STEC in the Campinas municipality, Sao Paulo State. Both suspect cases had prior travel to Europe and laboratory results are pending to either confirm or discard the infection.
The World Health Organization is not making any new recommendations for the treatment of cases related to this outbreak in particular.3
Normal hygiene measures should be observed. Hand washing after toilet use and before touching food, are highly recommended, as the bacterium can be passed from person to person, as well as through food, water and direct contact with animals. The bacteria is destroyed by thorough cooking of foods until all parts reach a temperature of 70 °C or higher.
Travel and international trade
The World Health Organization does not recommend any restrictions in travel to or trade related to these outbreaks.
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization