Ehec

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?

Postscriptum

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.

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29 thoughts on “Ehec

  1. Wash Wash and Wash. I hope this problem is solved soon. People getting sick and farmers losing crops. I’m sad for this situation. Be careful Mago.

  2. I am sure they will find a working antibiotic combination, Savannah, the parts of dna that formed the new bacterium are known. Yes, it is scary, a bit like the plague.

    Freilich wird’s gewaschen – and locally produced vegetable: If the bacterium bites me I can point my finger to the farmer who gave it to me. I read in the tagesschau from 30th that there are three suspected cases of infection in the U.S, people that returned from a trip to Germany.

    I wash it, Joyce. It’s sad for a lot of farmers, not only in Germany – because gherkins are not bought at all the Netherlandish or Belgian farmers can not import. One can not store vegetables for very long, this epidemy shows no sign of slowing. Maybe I switch to the beer and steak diet … 🙂

  3. “Yeah, let’s just spray some liquid shit on these veggies. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

    It’s like the Mad Max movies.

  4. Your suggestion is the correct one, surely, but it’s remarkable that such a virulent infection has arisen now, and never has before in this way. The dryness of the weather, the spraying of, presumably fresh, effluent, the strong wind that spread the bacteria from the ground and onto the fruiting vegetables – all alarming, and we’re all washing our uncooked fruit and veg more thoroughly than ever before.

    I hardly like to think of the damages claims against Germany by Spain.

  5. Yes, I agree, it’s an interesting theory in relation to the dust. Peculiar weather conditions can cause all sorts of anomalies.
    I live in a cow field… I will pass on eating salad for awhile… I know it’s not here but just hearing about the infection makes eating salad very off putting.
    Sx

  6. Keep safe Mr Mags. It could be a combo of cow and pig gut bacteria if its a new strain, and the effluent from both have been stored and mixed together to spray fertilize crops. And with it being dryer than other years the bug may well spread via dust storms.
    Cook everything you are planning to eat and pass on the salad for a while or at least until they are able to trace the source.
    With air travel these days this “New Bug” could turn up anywhere.
    Stay safe my friend….

  7. Hello and welcome, Mr. Peenee, thank you for your first comment here. You summarize it very catchily.

    I can not think of another way to bring Ehec onto something humans will eat – especially now, when the news tells anybody what to do to avoid an infection. And because Ehec is a new, aggressive and still resistant mutation it can be so successfull. I heared another speculation about the storage facilities for vegetables: They seemingly spray water over the fruits, a kind of fine cold fog.
    It’s not Spain alone that suffered and had substantial monetary losses: The Netherlands and Belgium too. It will be expensive in this regard too, Z.

    I think as long as cows are on their fields, munching grass and dropping cowpats things are fine, dear Ms.Scarlet. Except the cow wants to go home and rushes towards Z …

    Let’s hope, dear Princess, that the infection is contained. I remember well when the airports installed heat detectors to filter out people with fever …

  8. Just wash all your veggies with normal dish soap and water… that’s all it takes. E. coli is in every living mammal with a bowel, including us. It is only the unusual genetic deviation of this new strain that has caused the outbreak of illness and death. Too many people don’t take cleanliness seriously. Until something like this happens and then they all freak out and stop eating fruits and veggies completely, causing a massive disruption in the economy. Simple soap and water will kill the bacteria… the soap destroys the bacteria’s outer membrane, and then the water washes it away. So fill the sink with cool, soapy water, wash everything well, rinse well in cool clear water, allow to dry and then either enjoy or store for later.

    It’s amazing how much just soap and water can do… Just remember: washing our hands is the single most important way to avoid illness and disease. Scientifically proven. So just do it. Don’t go to extremes. There is no need to buy special products to wash your fruits and veggies. Just use normal dish washing liquid (not the kind for an automatic dishwasher).

    Manure does make a good fertilizer, but people need to realize that in most cases the produce from the fields is NOT washed before being sent to the store. The onus is on us, the consumer, to do so. So quit blaming the shit for the disaster. It’s horrible that people have fallen ill and died, but everyone needs to be responsible.

    Okay… I will get off my soapbox now…

  9. Several weeks from what I could find online, Mago.

    I say again… wash! It takes no time at all and little effort. 😉

  10. Do you remenber ebola?
    Scary.
    What happens if something like this hits India? Horrible, horrible. the bacterium monster has to be contained before it mutates.

  11. Ebola plays in another league I think, there would be no escape whatsoever. I hope that this bacterium will stay here and not travel. Sooner or later there will be a kind of cure or at least something like “best practice”. The curve of the increase seems to flatten, possibly the worst is over.

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