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EHEC pathogen in Frankfurt's Erlenbach
Frankfurt. According to the EHEC expert Professor Doktor Helge Karch from the Institute for Hygiene at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, the EHEC Fund in Frankfurt's Erlenbach is a sign that the dangerous germs are currently being secreted by people and subsequently nesting in our environment. The number of new EHEC infections has been falling significantly for days, but the dangerous pathogen remains in the environment. "Therefore, we now have to develop strategies on how we can eliminate it permanently," explained Helge Karch.
A total of 3,494 EHEC infections and 39 EHEC-related deaths in Germany have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute since the outbreak of the EHEC epidemic. The responsible authorities have identified an organic farm in the Uelzen district as a clear source of infection. But now the dangerous germs also appear to be spreading in the general environment, as the EHEC fund in Frankfurt's Erlenbach suggests. Although there are no clear confirmations from the laboratory, experts assume that the new EHEC pathogens of the HUESC 041 strain of the serotype O104: H4 are currently spreading massively in the environment due to human excretions.
EHEC pathogens spread in the environment According to the Münster-based EHEC expert Helge Karch, the new, particularly aggressive EHEC pathogens are particularly resistant and can therefore survive for a relatively long period of time even after being eliminated. This increases the spread risk significantly. The experts suspect that the pathogens have now apparently been detected in the Erlenbach, which could indicate the growing spread of dangerous pathogens. According to the Münster-based EHEC specialist Helge Karch, "many people are currently eliminating the pathogen", so that it cannot be excluded that "it has already nestled in our environment". Because the Erlenbach sample was taken near a sewage treatment plant, the water may have been contaminated by human waste. A sewage treatment plant generally does not purify the wastewater to a hygienically safe state, but the drains generally contain an increased level of germs, which is why the responsible authorities in Hesse generally advise against bathing in rivers, a spokeswoman for the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs said. The spokesman for the Federal Environment Agency, Stephan Gabriel Haufe, said on Monday in Dessau that such a bacterial load "is not unusual for water directly after the sewage treatment plant".
EHEC contamination of drinking water excluded? The Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs and the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture and Consumer Protection ruled out possible contamination of drinking water by the new, particularly dangerous EHEC pathogens. In a joint press release, the spokeswoman for the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs announced that there was no "connection of the stream to the public drinking water supply" and therefore "no risk of contamination of the drinking water". In the Erlenbach in Frankfurt, germs were also occasionally detected in earlier samples - including enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). The results of the new samples taken on Friday are expected in the coming days. Since the spread of pathogens in the environment can be assumed, the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs once again urged compliance with certain hygiene standards. For example, special care should be taken when dealing with people infected with EHEC, because those affected can transmit the dangerous pathogens for a long time after the EHEC symptoms have subsided, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs. According to the Münster-based EHEC Pope Helge Karch, however, it can be assumed that the new EHEC pathogen is currently increasingly spreading in the environment, so that strategies now have to be developed “how we can eliminate it permanently.” (Fp)
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