VTEC O104:H4 outbreak in Germany and cluster in France: Update 6/7/2011


The VTEC O104 outbreak on the continent continues, but the rate at which new cases are being reported has fallen markedly. As of 5/7/2011, a total of 897 HUS cases, including 33 deaths, and 3314 non-HUS cases, including 17 deaths, have been reported. A number of countries have been affected; distribution of the cases is available on the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The last reported date of illness onset among all cases was 29 June 2011. No cases associated with this outbreak have been identified in Ireland.

The latest cases outside Germany appeared in the Bordeaux region of France; all were associated with attendance at a single event. The strain of VTEC responsible for the French cases is indistinguishable from that that led to the German outbreak. This suggests that these two events are related to a common source.

A Task Force of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported on 5/7/2011 that organic fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt were the most likely source of the outbreaks of VTEC O104 in Germany and France. Accordingly, EFSA continues to advise consumers in Europe not to grow sprouts for their own consumption and not to eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they have been cooked thoroughly. In Ireland, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland continues to recommend that consumers should not eat raw sprouted seeds and if they are consumed, they should be cooked thoroughly.

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