EHEC epidemic survived

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No new EHEC infection in two weeks

According to the health authorities, the EHEC epidemic in Germany appears to be over. The consumption warnings issued during the wave of infections have been removed. Sprouts and seedlings can be eaten again without worry. The warnings of the authorities only apply to the fenugreek seeds from Egypt and the sprouts extracted from them. Since these are believed to be the source of the new, particularly aggressive EHEC pathogens, they should not continue to be eaten raw.

In a joint communication, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) lifted the consumption warnings issued due to the EHEC epidemic. The last EHEC infection in Germany was reported on July 7th. Since then, no other people in Germany have had EHEC symptoms, reports the RKI. After the wave of EHEC infections has been rife for more than two months, especially in northern Germany, the epidemic now seems to be over, the authorities continue. Overall, according to the RKI, more than 4,300 people in Germany had been infected with the new, particularly dangerous EHEC pathogen H104: O4 and the sequelae of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) since May. 49 people died as a result of the EHEC infection.

Warning for sprouts removed
Although the last EHEC infection was already weeks ago and the epidemic can be assessed as a whole, the authorities did not give a general all-clear. Because in the future there may be isolated outbreaks of infection, because the pathogens have settled in our environment and already infected people can unwittingly pass on the bacteria to their fellow human beings. The fenugreek seeds from Egypt, which were identified as the alleged cause of the EHEC infections and which were imported into the EU between 2009 and 2011, would have to be removed from the market and destroyed, so that they could no longer pose a direct danger. In addition, the investigations in the individual federal states had shown that the EHEC pathogens at importers, breeding companies or middlemen cannot jump to other sprout varieties. The fenugreek sprouts are also the only source of EHEC infections (apart from the subsequent transmission by humans), an infection by other sprout varieties is not known. Therefore, the consumption warnings for all other sprouts can be lifted, reported the BfR, RKI and BVL.

EHEC pathogens continue to be a risk
However, the new, particularly aggressive EHEC pathogens have not simply disappeared. They could also trigger similarly serious epidemics in the future if the germs get into food production and processing. This raises the question of improved control in the future, particularly for risk products such as the raw sprouts. In some cases, legal improvements appear to be necessary here in order to institutionalize control of EHEC pathogens in the future. However, appropriate regulations for the import of products would be required, as the source of the germs - as the surviving EHEC epidemic shows - can also be abroad. Overall, there remains a feeling of uncertainty among consumers after the EHEC wave of infections, not least because the crisis management functioned rather inadequately after the first spurts of infection occurred. Alternately, cucumbers, tomatoes or lettuce were mentioned as possible sources of infection before the sprouts were suspected. However, the sooner the actual source of the infection is found, the lower the risk of spreading a possible EHEC epidemic. (fp)

Read also about EHEC:
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Photo credit: Markus Wegner /

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  1. Caliburn

    Make mistakes. Let us try to discuss this.

  2. Nikhil

    the very valuable piece

  3. Tasida

    I think mistakes are made.

  4. Farnall

    Thanks! Useful ... .. (-___________-)

  5. Fitz Walter

    Happens even more cheerfully :)

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