German sprouts blamed for E. coli outbreak

Tainted raw bean and seed sprouts grown in Germany spread the strain of Escherichia coli that caused an outbreak of enterohemorrhagic illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) there and in other European countries, investigators concluded.

As of June 10, Germany had 773 HUS cases, 22 of which were fatal, the World Health Organization reported on its web site (www.who.int). Germany had 2,374 cases of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) without HUS. Of these, 12 were fatal.

In addition, 13 other European countries reported a total of 36 HUS cases (one fatal) and 66 EHEC cases.

HUS is a complication of EHEC and is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytopenia. HUS mainly develops in children, and is the most common cause of acute renal failure in young children.

The German outbreak is noteworthy in that it developed rapidly and involved an unusually high number of cases in adults, particularly women. In fact, 88% of cases occurred in individuals aged 20 years or older and 68% occurred in women, according to WHO.

This article first appeared in Renal & Urology News, a sister publication to Clinical Advisor.

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