Seychelles aims to prevent E. Coli outbreak

People urged to take precautionary measure, By Jemina Robert TODAY 8 June 2011

The Public Health Commissioner said Seychelles is on full alert as the world's largest and most deadliest E. Coli outbreak that has already killed 14 people in Germany and left 300 seriously ill, spreads to other northern European countries. It is believed the infection has spread as far as the United States of America.

German ministers and disease experts investigating the E-coli outbreak now say that contaminated cucumbers from Spain were not responsible for the outbreak as orginally believed, but German- produced beansprouts. German Agriculture spokesperson Gert Hahne said although tests were not conclusive, all indicators point to them. He warned people to stop eating sprouts, often used in mixed salads in northern Germany.

With the situation expected to worsen in the coming weeks, Dr Jude Gedeon, has urged people to take extra care when storing food for consumption, as it was widely believed that the outbreak of E.Coli had been triggered off by poor storage conditions of vegetables when being transported.

E.Coli is normally present inside the human intestines, but the virulent strain causing the outbreak in Europe is said to be very dangerous and even resistant to medicines. People are falling sick all of a sudden and in the acute stage suffer from internal bleeding. E.Coli affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the nervous system and can be particularly serious for children and the elderly. Among the first known symptoms are acute abdominal cramps, diarhorea, fever and blood which can be spotted in urine and faeces. Most infected people in Europe are dying from kidney failures.

Despite the strain of E.Coli starting in Germany, Dr Gedeon said it could spread to Seychelles through infected people.

“It all depends on the kind of hygiene one has. It can easily spread from faeces to water and if you wash the vegetables in the water, then they get contaminated,” Dr Gedeon said.  

“We are advising people to wash vegetable that they eat raw properly with treated water and if not, then with boiled water. But most importantly to wash their hands properly and often when coming out from using the toilet,” Dr Gedeon said.

He also highlighted the importance of respecting the norms in food transportation and storage such as maintaining the proper temperature at all times and to avoid mixing all types of foods together.

For example, he advised against storing ice cream products with meat products in the same chiller or fresh fish with vegetables.

In the meantime, some of the biggest importers of fruits and vegetables, such as the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) have confirmed they are not importing any of these products from Europe. STC said its main import markets for fruits and vegetables were New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Other importers said they have stopped importing certain varieties of vegetables. Russia and other Asian countries have issued a ban on vegetables imports from Germany.

Photo: A false-color electron microscope image shows a type of deadly bacteria known as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (red) that’s similar to the strain causing a large outbreak in Germany.
Credit: Manfred Rohde, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (Helmholtz Center for Infection Research) Via Science News 

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