Jun 06 2011

Superbad E. coli 0104: H4 – The Update. Graehm Gray

The deadly bacteria E. coli 0104 also known as enterohaemorrhagic  E. coli (EHEC) has spread to all parts of Germany as well as most of Europe and several cases have been confirmed in the United States. Most cases involve young women between the ages of 20 – 50. Besides Germany, Sweden has the highest number of confirmed cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (a blood infection and kidney failure) as a result of the EHEC infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the EHEC determined in the laboratory is the serotype 0104:H4 and the specific strain is the enteroaggregative Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (EAggEC VTEC) 0104:H4.

Initially reported by German health officials, bean sprouts grown at an organic farm in northern Germany (Gaertnerhof farm in the village of Buenenbuettel) were implicated as a cause of the lethal bacteria. Now that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Lower Saxony agriculture ministry did an about face and retracted the bean sprout story, apparently finding no evidence of the EHEC after testing. So the search goes on. After initially implicating Spanish cucumbers, now bean sprouts are out as a suspect, at least for now.

So where do we go next? The advisory is still in effect: DO NOT EAT RAW TOMATOES, LETTUCE, BEAN SPROUTS OR CUCUMBERS when traveling in the northern part of Germany. Seek medical care if you have eaten these raw vegetables and or have any of the symptoms: bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and fever. Hospitals in the northern part of Germany are overloaded with sickened patients. 22 people are dead and over 2300 are ill. Some are seriously ill with a blood disorder and kidney failure. From the actual exposure to EHEC, to the onset of symptoms may be as long as 12 days.

Remember E. coli lives in the intestines and is found in the manure of animals (and humans). It can contaminate all foods. Fruits and vegetables should all be washed before eating. Meats, poultry and fish should be cooked to proper temperatures. And foods should be stored in properly cooled environments. Hand washing and food safety procedures should be followed, at every eating establishment as well as at home.

My friends, stay fit and healthy The Nerdel Way.


  1. World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ health: www.cdc.gov/travel/

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