CDC Monitors German E. Coli Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control is monitoring the large outbreak of E. Coli that has hit European communities this spring.

The E. Coli strain, which is a Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4 infection mosty discovered in Germany, has been confirmed in four cases and one suspected case in the U.S. Of the five cases, four recently traveled to Hamburg, Germany, where they were likely exposed.

The CDC has reported an alert to state health departments of the ongoing outbreak and requested information about any persons with either HUS or Shiga toxin-positive diarrheal illness, or with illness onset during or after travel to Germany and since April 1, 2011. The CDC has also reported substantial evidence to indicate that fresh sprouts produced by a farm in Lower Saxony are responsible for the current outbreak in Germany. German public health authorities currently recommend that people in Germany not eat raw sprouts of any origin.

No sprouts or other food items from that farm in Lower Saxony have been exported outside Germany, but travelers to Germany should be aware of the advisory. In addition, other European produce has been similarly affected; the Republic of Georgia reported a culture of that seems to be similar to the current outbreak.

Symptoms of infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea -- often bloody -- and vomiting. Most people get over the illnesses within a week, but some patients may get worse and require hospitalization.

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