VTEC O104:H4 outbreak in Germany and cluster in France: Update 29/6/11


On 24th June, France reported a cluster of cases of Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhoea in Bordeaux in France. As of 28th June, 15 cases have been identified, of whom eight cases have developed HUS. 11 of these cases attended an event, at which 9 reported having eaten sprouts (fenugreek, mustard and rucola). Left over seeds are currently being analysed. In three of the patients, infection with E coli O104:H4 has been confirmed

In addition, Sweden reported a confirmed case of E coli O104:H4 in southern Sweden in a person who had no history of recent travel to Germany and who did not recall having eaten sprouts prior to onset of illness.

The large outbreak of E coli O104:H4 in northern Germany has been shown to be associated with consumption of sprouts from a local producer. In this outbreak, 885 HUS cases, including 31 deaths, and 3,138 non-HUS cases, including 17 deaths have so far been reported.

Investigations are ongoing, but initial findings suggest that the consumption of sprouts is the cause of the infection in both France and Germany. Epidemiological, microbiological and trace-back investigations are currently ongoing to identify the origin of the contamination responsible for these outbreaks.

Until the investigation has been finalised, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority strongly recommend advising consumers not to grow sprouts for their own consumption and not to eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they have been cooked properly. This is in line with advice from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

There have been no cases of E coli O104:H4 identified in Ireland. GPs and clinicians have been reminded to notify any potential cases promptly to Public Health.

The latest epidemiological updates from ECDC are available here.

Click here for further information on VTEC and HUS.