The problem steadily becomes bigger: Ehec (Ger., Eng.) is a subtype of the E.coli (Ger., Eng.) bacterium. An infection with this can lead to very different courses of the disease, but it may lead to huS (Ger., Eng.). This may kill humans and actually it does so: 17 people already died and there will be more; I am not sure how many people are infected, the number is around 2000 (according to this article). Actually Ehec has a small grin only for our antibiotics – they are useless.
The bacterium lives in animals like cows, in their bowels. When the first cases were known, samples were taken from food the infected had and very fast raw vegetables like tomatoes, salad, gherkins were identified as carriers. Because some of the first probes carried E.coli and came from Spain, it was accepted that Spanish imported vegetable would be the source of the infection. This is meanwhile proofed wrong: The Spanish products can not be the carriers of the infection, they never carried Ehec. Besides: There should be thousands of dead Spaniards littering the streets if Spanish tomatoes and salad were poisonous. I read somewhere that only two people in Spain are infected with Ehec, and they seemingly came back from a travel to – Germany.
The source of the infection is still not found and the numbers rise. A leading physician compared it to the Ruhr-epidemy (Ger., Eng.) around the end of WWII. Meanwhile the genome of the bacterium is deciphered: It is a brand new combination of formerly known components. Maybe that will help to find a working antibiotic combination, hopefully pretty fast.
What I find very disturbing is that the numbers of infections did not go down a bit, they even went up at a more rapid pace than last week. Anybody here knows by now that biting in an unwashed salad may have some unhappy consequences: In fact farmers in the most affected Bundesländer in the North of Germany had to destroy their crop, first farms face bankruptcy – nobody buys their products.
It is a regional problem still: Hamburg, Niedersachsen, Brandenburg and Berlin are the places with the most infections. Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bayern are seemingly not affected. At least I heared about only two cases in Northern Bavaria, in the city of Bayreuth – nothing else.
As we know now two bacteria swapped their dna and made a new bacterium we call Ehec. This act of generation most possible took place in some cow’s bowels. Cattle excretion today in Germany are nearly totally handled in the form of liquid manure (Gülle) and brought out on fields.
Big, industrialized livestock holding (cows and pigs) is done in the North of Germany. There we have also very large (and flat, Ger., Eng.) areas for producing different fruit: For humans and for animals.
I remember that some weeks ago a major smash-up took place on an Autobahn in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, nearly 100 cars slammed into each other, people died. It was caused by a sandstorm: A fast developing, all clouding dark wall of dust that made it impossible to see for ten meters, forget to drive on an Autobahn, blamm. It was not the first such event, some weeks ago I heard about a dust storm over the Ostsee (Ger., Eng.), what I found to be pretty remarkable. They seemingly have an erosion problem there. It’s a dry year so far.
Is it possible that Ehec simply sits in the soil? In dust? Ehec is never really in a vegetable – it could not live there, it is on the surface of vegetables. Or things.
It would be worth a look: Where and when was liquid manure brought out on fields; where and when did dust storms occur; in which direction was how many earth transported? How long can Ehec survive outside a cow?
I stand corrected in regard of the actual numbers: In this German article you find a map showing the actual “EHEC-Fälle in Deutschland”, just scroll down a bit. Bavaria has 62 confirmed cases, 19 of them huS, no deaths.