Cinnaminson, NJ, June 3rd, 2011 -- Over 1,600 people across Europe have become ill from E. coli contaminated food and 18 have died so far. Several sick people in the United States who had recently traveled to Germany are currently undergoing testing to determine if they too have the illness.
The majority of the outbreak so far has taken place in Germany, but health officials there have not yet been able to pinpoint the source. Cucumbers and other raw vegetables are possible sources. Both German and Chinese scientists have analyzed the E. coli bacteria and it appears to contain several genes that have antibiotic properties. So far scientists believe it to be similar to a strain of the bacteria found in the Central African Republic.
“This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before,” reported Hilde Kruse from the World Health Organization (WHO). Early genetic sequencing appears to indicate the strain may be a combination of two different strains of E. coli.
E. coli are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make people sick. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses.
“People of any age can become infected,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical, a major food testing laboratory in the U.S. “Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill. Proper food safety measures and food testing can help prevent outbreaks like what are being seen in Europe. If this is indeed a new strain of E. coli appearing in Europe it is only a matter of time before the food industry in the U.S. will also be facing challenges keeping the nation’s food supply safe from this new threat,” he continued.
EMSL recently sponsored a public outreach video to inform people about E. coli dangers. It can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlyfc-5fVqI.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of food, environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.