3 people have died and another 276 have been hospitalized in Germany following a May outbreak of Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS). While cases have been reported in other countries, all those affected by the disease recently visited Germany, particularly northern Germany. HUS is caused by harmful strains of E. coli bacteria sometimes present in food, and is most common among children. Early symptoms of HUS include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, which may later turn to full kidney failure. The mortality rate for HUS is about 5%.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), German health officials are eyeing contaminated cucumbers as the cause of the HUS outbreak. People experiencing the symptoms listed above should see a doctor as soon as possible.
To protect against infection, the WHO recommends:
- Make sure all cooking surfaces and utensils are washed and sanitized
- Always wash your hands before preparing food, and after using the toilet
- Separate raw food (such as meat and seafood) from cooked foods during preparation
- Cook all food thoroughly (the bacteria that causes HUS cannot survive at temperatures above 70 degrees C)
- Use safe water
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them, especially if they will be eaten raw
The WHO has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions with Germany due to the HUS outbreak.