New EHEC therapy shows treatment success

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Bloodwashing therapy successfully tested on twelve EHEC patients

In the wake of the recent EHEC epidemic in Germany, doctors from the Hannover Medical School (MHH) and the Greifswald University Hospital successfully tested a special blood wash therapy for the first time.

In the run-up to the blood wash, the treated patients showed particularly severe EHEC symptoms such as the so-called hemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), massive neurological failures and kidney failure, reports Hanoverian and Greifswald medical doctors in the current issue of the specialist journal "The Lancet". All patients who were treated with the new treatment method have survived the EHEC infection and are relatively well. None of those affected had to rely on further dialysis after completing it, and the majority of the patients also regressed to neurological disorders.

New treatment method shows immediate success A total of twelve people infected with EHEC - five in the Greifswald University Hospital and seven in the Hannover Medical School (MHH) - were treated with the novel blood wash therapy in the course of the EHEC epidemic. The therapy aimed not only to reduce the toxin shiga toxin produced by the EHEC bacteria, but also to reduce the formation of antibodies, since this is also responsible for the occurrence of the particularly severe EHEC symptoms, the doctors explained. After other attempts at therapy, such as plasma exchange and the administration of antibodies, were unsuccessful, the doctors in Hanover and Greifswald decided to use the new blood wash therapy. The patient's condition improved noticeably immediately after the start of treatment, said Andreas Greinacher, transfusion doctor at the Greifwald University Hospital.

EHEC wave of infections with long-term consequences Today, according to the doctors, ten of the twelve treated EHEC patients no longer show any neurological symptoms. The other two patients are currently on the mend, according to MHH doctor Jan Kielstein, but are still being treated in neurological rehabilitation. In addition, none of the 38- to 63-year-old sufferers had to rely on dialysis since the end of treatment, the doctors said in their publication. According to Jan Kielstein, this is particularly good news, since he believes that between ten and twenty patients who suffered from particularly severe EHEC symptoms as a result of the EHEC epidemic will be dependent on dialysis in the long term. According to the Robert Koch Institute, nearly 3,500 people in Germany contracted an EHEC infection during the wave of infections with the new, particularly dangerous intestinal bacterium HUSEC 041 from the genus Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) that raged between May and July 2011. Jan Kielstein explained that more than 450 of the 733 patients who were subsequently treated for hemolytic-uraemic syndrome had to undergo dialysis (blood washing) and 50 patients died as a result of the EHEC infection. (fp)

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Symptoms of an EHEC infection
EHEC epidemic survived

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