E coli outbreak in Germany adds 365 more confirmed cases

The mysterious German E coli outbreak that has killed 16 people shows no sight of abating, with 365 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

The source of the outbreak remains unknown, though the majority of those affected either live in Germany – particularly in or around the northern city of Hamburg – or have travelled there recently.

The German disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported 365 new E coli cases today, a quarter of them involving the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication resulting from E coli infection that affects the blood and kidneys.

European Union officials said three cases had also been reported in the US, adding that most infections reported outside Germany involved German nationals or people who had recently travelled to the country. On Tuesday, a Swedish woman became the first person to die outside Germany after returning from a trip there.

On Wednesday, the northern state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania issued a plea for blood donations in case the number of victims continues to rise.

German authorities initially identified cucumbers imported from Spain as the likely source of the outbreak but they admitted on Tuesday that further tests on the cucumbers showedthat, while contaminated, they did not carry the bacterium strain responsible for the deaths.

Local Lettuce with Certified Food Safety labeling?

Contributed by Alan Rudo

I’ve lost my confidence in buying local lettuce after purchasing a head of Romaine with a slug inside from a vendor at Pahoa’s Farmer’s Market this past Sunday. What really makes me angry was the labeling, which read, “Hamakua Springs:Certified Food Safety.” It wasn’t until, I went to wash the lettuce, that I discovered the slug inside the plastic wrapping. I am disgusted to think that I stored this deadly slug inside my refrigerator for even a few hours. Thankfully, I discovered the slug before anyone consumed the lettuce. I contacted the grower Hamakua Springs and told them how upset and disappointed I naturally am because rat-lung disease kills people. Their reply was more pathetic than I imagined, “We go to a lot of trouble trying to address the rat lungworm issue. I went to the community meeting at Kalapana Sea View Estate, about rat lungworm disease, in early 2009. We take this issue very seriously.” This was followed with an explanation on the rat-lung cycle and oh, yeah, “we’re sorry.” Here I’m trying to buy local, support the farmers and I get lettuce labeled, “Certified Food Safety,” which might have killed someone. Where is the oversight? Where are the inspectors? Why are they able to call their product “Certified Food Safety?