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Europe E. coli is from Sprouts, German Hospital Says

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A hospital in Germany treating over 100 patients infected with E. coli claims the outbreak was caused by sprouts, says Bloomberg. The new strain of E. coli has devastated Germany, leaving 23 dead and 2,429 ill since May 2. Patients treated at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) revealed during interviews that they ate sprouts before becoming sick.

Joerg F. Debatin, medical director of the hospital said, “Sprouts are the most likely and credible explanation, and it wouldn’t be the first time.”

However, tests from a farm in Lower Saxony state, which was suspected as the source for the contaminated sprouts, showed no evidence of the bacteria. Nonetheless, Debatin says there is a connection: infections in the area of Cuxhaven and among employees of the farm.

Just last week, the Associated Press and MSNBC.com staff reported that German officials initially blamed the source of the outbreak on Spanish cucumbers. The accusation caused uproar causing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to demand compensation and explanation from the German federal government.

The UKE hospital is treating 81 adult patients and 22 children infected with E. coli who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, a fatal kidney complication. Twenty-four adult patients and five children are in intensive care, says Bloomberg, and since the outbreak 20 patients were discharged, six are in rehabilitation and two have died.

On May 31, UKE was removed as an emergency support option for the area. The hospital began preparing for a second wave of potential cases by not admitting any new patients; however, no substantial increase of infections occurred so the hospital has resumed accepting patients, said Debatin.

In 1996, E. coli-contaminated radish sprouts were linked to infecting 6,000 people in Japan, says Bloomberg.

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