UPDATE: E. coli and the Hamburg World Cup

06/06/2011 - 11:00:00

(6 June at 17:30 hrs CET) German agriculture officials said Monday that 23 of 40 produce samples from a suspected sprout farm failed to identify E. coli contamination, a finding that adds to the confusion over the source of an outbreak that has killed at least 22 people and left more than 600 in intensive care.

The announcement, made at a news conference Monday afternoon, came a day after officials had identified tainted sprouts from a farm in the Uelzen area in the north as the “most convincing” cause, and shut it down while it tested 18 sprout mixtures, including beans, broccoli, peas, chickpeas, garlic, lentils, mung beans and radishes. The sprouts are often used in mixed salads.

The results from the remaining 17 tests were expected within 24 hours.

FISA’s Sports Medicine Commission is in close contact with the Hamburg health authority and the Hamburg organising committee to provide relevant and reliable information and to ensure protective strategies for athletes, coaches, staff and visitors. The hospital admission numbers of the last days show a reduction in transmission. Nearly no infections have been reported in the confined area around the regatta course Allermöhe.

The Hamburg Health authority after consultation with the Federal Health institute (Robert Koch Institute) stated on 5 June that at this time that, due to the reduction of the progression of the outbreak, does not lead to the conclusion of postponing or cancelling large events based on the EHEC/HUS.

E – Coli is a water and food borne disease that presents with severe watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever and vomiting that may progress to HUS. Patients present with bloody diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain should be seen by a physician either in a hospital immediately to ensure proper treatment.

This disease is best prevented with good hygiene including regular hand washing or hand sanitization, avoiding unwashed salads including cucumber, salad, sprouts and tomatoes and ensuring high risk foods e.g., ground beef, hamburgers are prepared and cooked thoroughly.

The Organizing Committee for the Hamburg World Cup regatta is taking all necessary precautions to minimize the probability of infections arising here. These include certification of the origins of all foods and the food preparation, regular inspection and cleaning of the toilets and provision of hand sanitisation facilities at the venue.

Further information on this disease can be found at the following links:

World Health Organisation

Marler Clark Food Safety organisation

German Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s center for disease control

This statement will be updated in the morning of 7 June 2011.

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