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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli O104:H4 Fenugreek Sprout Outbreak – EU says 44 dead, WHO says 52 – if you include the US

The European Union (EU) as of today, using the new case definition that excludes 7 deaths, the cumulative number of non-HUS STEC cases in the EU is 3,041 (excludes 5 from France), including 16 deaths, and 757 HUS STEC (excludes 156) cases, including 28 deaths. The EU does not count the 4 HUS cases, 1 death and 2 non-HUS STEC cases.

The EU finds that in Germany, since 8 July, five HUS STEC cases and 13 non-HUS STEC cases have been newly reported. Four HUS STEC cases and twelve non-HUS STEC cases fell ill within the last 10 days (29 June – 8 July). The last known date of illness onset in a patient with confirmed STEC O104 was 27 June 2011. The last reported date of illness onset among all cases was 4 July 2011.

The United Kingdom reports an additional confirmed non-HUS STEC case, in a visiting German national coming from Hamburg.

With regards to the outbreak in Bordeaux, France, since the last update on 30 June, two HUS STEC cases and three non-HUS STEC cases have been newly confirmed. Three of these cases had eaten sprouted seeds at an event in Bègles, and the other two (one HUS STEC, one non-HUS STEC) have been attributed to person-to-person transmission.

The table below shows the distribution of reported cases per country, excluding suspected cases.

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Note: the numbers in this table represent the total number of cases reported at the European level (ECDC) so far. Although daily numbers of reported cases have steadily decreased in the last weeks, these cumulative numbers continue to rise due to reporting delays at the various levels.

Suspected cases (Germany: 156 HUS (7 deaths), France: 5 non-HUS STEC) are not included.

* Cases reported from the new outbreak in Bordeaux

** Cases reported earlier, linked to travel to Germany

The WHO reports different numbers. The table below shows the total number of globally reported (as of 06 July) cases of and deaths from E. coli (EAggEC VTEC) O104:H4 infection since the beginning of the outbreak in Germany on 1 May 2011. In total, 16 countries in Europe and North America have reported 3941 cases of E. coli O104:H4 infection, including 52 fatalities.

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 8.33.02 PM.png

The European Union banned the import of certain Egyptian seeds and beans last Tuesday following an official report that a single batch of well-travelled Egyptian fenugreek seeds probably caused two European outbreaks (germany and France) of E. coli poisoning.  A task force of health officials set up by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported that “one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks.

  • John Fryer Chemist

    Without Bill there would be little or no interest in the worlds biggest health catastrophe to date.
    At this time there are few known facts and ominously thebest leads are being totally ignored. Why?
    There is just one supplier in Egypt but who or what type offenugrek does he make?
    There is ample opportunity to buy Non GMO fenugrek and I can find no evidence for any GMO fenugrek.
    As at July 14th 2011 do we take that as meaning there is NO GMO fenugrek.
    E Coli is and was a favourite in many GMO foods etc and the organismheld responsible is not any E Coli but specifically the sort that might be used in GMO experiments.
    As at this date there is no evidence of any GMO involvement but amazingly there is no intent to look for GMO E Coli problems either.
    Are we then to belive that external E coli has survived more than 2 years in a packet of seeds and exposed to air et al and survived?
    This seems highly unliklely given the E coli is onlynormally growing and dividing in cows or humans and if so dangerous would have killed the cow or human many years ago and there is no known deaths then.
    Until 1982 there was no such type of harm from E Coli known except today by reinventing history and making out from this date that E coli deaths always existed.
    In France a country not enamoured by GMO food the first death of this kind I found was in 2003 more than 20 years after such deaths in the GMO proponent countries like USA.
    The failure to look inside the shoots of sprouts for E coli harm is a scientific analysis not done and smacks of political involvement to keep the GRAS status for GMO.
    As there is NO GMO involvement surely it is an ideal time for PR by GMO industry and regulators like the FDA or its European equivalent.
    In USA and Argentina these numbers of HUS would attract no publicity as they are rampant there.
    Argentina another GMO proponent hasin fact the highest number of deaths from HUS even taking into account this scary episode which is still ongoing and may in the future be seen as small compared to the deaths and illnesses when Europe openly admits the flow and grow of GMO for its population.

  • sleuther

    Think genetically engineered E.coli does not exist?
    Even though E.coli has been the most favored microbial lab rat of the biotech world for a long time now, it looks like the authorities who delving into the genetic origins of the outbreak of the recent newly virulent rare strain of E.coli in Germany and France are not going to go looking into biotech labs in their investigation.
    But maybe they should check this NYT article touting the latest “advances” of synthetic biologists who are busy tinkering away modifying and creating all sorts of new forms of E.coli…