Super E. Coli

A food-poisoning epidemic in Europe is reportedly caused by a super-toxic strain of the E. coli bacteria:

Scientists on Thursday blamed Europe’s worst recorded food-poisoning outbreak on a “super-toxic” strain of E. coli bacteria that may be brand new.

But while suspicion has fallen on raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce as the source of the germ, researchers have been unable to pinpoint the food responsible for the frightening illness, which has killed at least 18 people, sickened more than 1,600 and spread to least 10 European countries.

An alarmingly large number of victims — about 500 — have developed kidney complications that can be deadly.

Chinese and German scientists analyzed the DNA of the E. coli bacteria and determined that the outbreak was caused by “an entirely new, super-toxic” strain that contains several antibiotic-resistant genes, according to a statement from the Shenzhen, China-based laboratory BGI. It said the strain appeared to be a combination of two types of E. coli.

“This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before,” Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press. The new strain has “various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing” than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines.

via Outbreak in Europe blamed on ‘super-toxic’ strain – Yahoo! News.

The specific source of the outbreak has not yet been pinpointed.  In the meantime, stay away from European vegetables.  Let’s hope the super bacteria can be isolated and dealt with before it spreads throughout the world.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    See what you get with socialized health care and Euro-bailouts? Super toxic e. coli..

  • SKPeterson

    See what you get with socialized health care and Euro-bailouts? Super toxic e. coli..

  • Stephen

    SK

    Seriously? How do you make that connection? You are going to have to explain that one. I’m interested.

    We have a large percentage of uninsured Americans and skyrocketing health care costs, along with the lowest taxes on the wealthy in decades, therefore we have antibiotic resistant MRSA?

  • Stephen

    SK

    Seriously? How do you make that connection? You are going to have to explain that one. I’m interested.

    We have a large percentage of uninsured Americans and skyrocketing health care costs, along with the lowest taxes on the wealthy in decades, therefore we have antibiotic resistant MRSA?

  • Tom Hering

    Like the bumper sticker I saw the other day says, “If We Can’t Tax The Rich, Can We At Least EAT Them?”

  • Tom Hering

    Like the bumper sticker I saw the other day says, “If We Can’t Tax The Rich, Can We At Least EAT Them?”

  • SKPeterson

    Sorry, Stephen. I should’ve applied the satire warning label.

    Anyhow, what’s a little knee-jerk hyperbole between friends?

  • SKPeterson

    Sorry, Stephen. I should’ve applied the satire warning label.

    Anyhow, what’s a little knee-jerk hyperbole between friends?

  • SKPeterson

    That would be a great addendum to Cranach: the daily spurious, hyperbolic, post hoc, ergo propter hoc association of unrelated news items.

  • SKPeterson

    That would be a great addendum to Cranach: the daily spurious, hyperbolic, post hoc, ergo propter hoc association of unrelated news items.

  • Dennis Peskey

    The “Lead me not into Temptation” award for this month should be given to SKPeterson for his post hoc, ergo propter hoc suggestion (which would bear the subtitle of How not to stay with the Thread). My only query would be to what policy would we attribute the plague? For the conspiratorial minded among us, the lack of source identification virtually ensures the virus has already spread beyond the old world to the new and beyond. Relax, all this means is we will not suffer from a super virus gap in international relations.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The “Lead me not into Temptation” award for this month should be given to SKPeterson for his post hoc, ergo propter hoc suggestion (which would bear the subtitle of How not to stay with the Thread). My only query would be to what policy would we attribute the plague? For the conspiratorial minded among us, the lack of source identification virtually ensures the virus has already spread beyond the old world to the new and beyond. Relax, all this means is we will not suffer from a super virus gap in international relations.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Stephen

    SK-

    Whew! I kinda suspected. I never quite know around here some times.

    Can we eat the rich? What do they taste like after years on those fancy diets?*

    *sarcasm warning label should be affixed here.

  • Stephen

    SK-

    Whew! I kinda suspected. I never quite know around here some times.

    Can we eat the rich? What do they taste like after years on those fancy diets?*

    *sarcasm warning label should be affixed here.

  • Stephen

    Dennis,

    A Super Virus Gap!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

  • Stephen

    Dennis,

    A Super Virus Gap!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

  • Tom Hering

    “Can we eat the rich? What do they taste like after years on those fancy diets?” – Stephen @ 7.

    You made me think of that episode of Amazing Stories where a cruel farmer and his abused wife lower food down a well, and the bucket comes back up loaded with gold bullion and a note that says, “Tastes like chicken. What else have you got?” When the wife lowers her husband down to investigate, the bucket comes back up again with more gold bullion, but no husband. Just another note that says, “Thanks for the turkey.” :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “Can we eat the rich? What do they taste like after years on those fancy diets?” – Stephen @ 7.

    You made me think of that episode of Amazing Stories where a cruel farmer and his abused wife lower food down a well, and the bucket comes back up loaded with gold bullion and a note that says, “Tastes like chicken. What else have you got?” When the wife lowers her husband down to investigate, the bucket comes back up again with more gold bullion, but no husband. Just another note that says, “Thanks for the turkey.” :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, the main reason for the birth of super-viruses and super-bacteria is our absurdly scrupulous hygienic standards. So maybe this is a commentary on how clean those socialized hospitals are?

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, the main reason for the birth of super-viruses and super-bacteria is our absurdly scrupulous hygienic standards. So maybe this is a commentary on how clean those socialized hospitals are?

  • Grace

    I heard there were a few cases in the U.S. after traveling abroad.

    E coli outbreak in Germany adds 365 more confirmed cases

    Helen Pidd in Berlin and agencies
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday

    “Germans warned against eating raw lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as cause of outbreak centred on Hamburg remains a mystery

    Germans warned against eating raw lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as cause of outbreak centred on Hamburg remains a mystery

    The mysterious German E coli outbreak that has killed 16 people shows no sight of abating, with 365 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

    The source of the outbreak remains unknown, though the majority of those affected either live in Germany – particularly in or around the northern city of Hamburg – or have travelled there recently.

    The German disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported 365 new E coli cases today, a quarter of them involving the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication resulting from E coli infection that affects the blood and kidneys.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/01/e-coli-germany

  • Grace

    I heard there were a few cases in the U.S. after traveling abroad.

    E coli outbreak in Germany adds 365 more confirmed cases

    Helen Pidd in Berlin and agencies
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday

    “Germans warned against eating raw lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as cause of outbreak centred on Hamburg remains a mystery

    Germans warned against eating raw lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as cause of outbreak centred on Hamburg remains a mystery

    The mysterious German E coli outbreak that has killed 16 people shows no sight of abating, with 365 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

    The source of the outbreak remains unknown, though the majority of those affected either live in Germany – particularly in or around the northern city of Hamburg – or have travelled there recently.

    The German disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported 365 new E coli cases today, a quarter of them involving the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication resulting from E coli infection that affects the blood and kidneys.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/01/e-coli-germany

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Seriously, this raw food movement has gotten way out of hand. This is why I always cook my cucumbers and lettuce before eating them — usually by either grilling or microwaving.

    Ahem. On a more serious note, Cincinnatus (@10), what? “Absurdly scrupulous hygienic standards” are the problem?

    I kind of thought part of it was that people who have been prescribed antibiotics fail to follow through on their full dosage. That would be less than scrupulous, though.

    Another contributor is the absurdly unhygienic standards for the raising of most commercial livestock, with the result that it is economically more viable to pump the livestock full of antibiotics than it is to bother cleaning up the crap they live in. And then we eat those animals.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Seriously, this raw food movement has gotten way out of hand. This is why I always cook my cucumbers and lettuce before eating them — usually by either grilling or microwaving.

    Ahem. On a more serious note, Cincinnatus (@10), what? “Absurdly scrupulous hygienic standards” are the problem?

    I kind of thought part of it was that people who have been prescribed antibiotics fail to follow through on their full dosage. That would be less than scrupulous, though.

    Another contributor is the absurdly unhygienic standards for the raising of most commercial livestock, with the result that it is economically more viable to pump the livestock full of antibiotics than it is to bother cleaning up the crap they live in. And then we eat those animals.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Yeah, you’re right. I was equating (somewhat improperly) our obsessive reliance upon antibiotics–including antibiotic sterilization cleaners, etc.–and general hygiene. In general, our sterilized, antiobioticized environments create a Darwinian process by which only the strongest germs survive–like this one.

    I’m not totally out of line, though. Children who aren’t exposed to enough germs at a young age, for instance, can have weakened immune systems.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Yeah, you’re right. I was equating (somewhat improperly) our obsessive reliance upon antibiotics–including antibiotic sterilization cleaners, etc.–and general hygiene. In general, our sterilized, antiobioticized environments create a Darwinian process by which only the strongest germs survive–like this one.

    I’m not totally out of line, though. Children who aren’t exposed to enough germs at a young age, for instance, can have weakened immune systems.

  • Stephen

    Eat more dirt, that’s it! Dirt as a supplement perhaps. Dirt as a condiment maybe. Did you have your dirt dose today?

  • Stephen

    Eat more dirt, that’s it! Dirt as a supplement perhaps. Dirt as a condiment maybe. Did you have your dirt dose today?

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus @ 13 – absolutely. One can be too clean. Immune systems need to be trained – super clean kids = sickly, allergic older kids. (BTW, not all allergies are because of super cleanliness).

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus @ 13 – absolutely. One can be too clean. Immune systems need to be trained – super clean kids = sickly, allergic older kids. (BTW, not all allergies are because of super cleanliness).

  • steve

    I honestly don’t think this has the potential of traveling worldwide. As far as I know, e. coli outbreaks are localized and most of the infected people are German or have traveled to Germany in recent days. I suppose its possible that a globe-trotting food-handler could have picked it up in Germany and came back to the States and infected a small portion of the food supply. Fortunately, the incubation period is not that long so the risk seems to me to be extremely small.

  • steve

    I honestly don’t think this has the potential of traveling worldwide. As far as I know, e. coli outbreaks are localized and most of the infected people are German or have traveled to Germany in recent days. I suppose its possible that a globe-trotting food-handler could have picked it up in Germany and came back to the States and infected a small portion of the food supply. Fortunately, the incubation period is not that long so the risk seems to me to be extremely small.


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