WHO: E. coli outbreak “nearly over”

WHO says the threat from the European e. coli outbreak is over

The most recent update from the World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of e. coli cases in Germany and France is “much diminished.” It concluded “the [most recent] figures reflect some delayed reporting, and the evidence indicates the outbreak, which took 50 lives in Germany alone, is nearly over.”

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, meanwhile, declared the outbreak’s end yesterday. It said no new cases had been reported in three weeks (the disease’s incubation time). There have been no new cases in France or Sweden since the beginning of July, either.

The disease has cost European farmers millions of euros, and many are now demanding compensation from European governments. Economic damage is not limited to the continent, however. It has also hit Egypt, which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) fingered as the source of contaminated fenugreek seeds responsible for the outbreak. The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture continues to deny responsibility for the infections, claiming all produce has tested negative for e. coli. On July 25th, the EU announced a ban on Egyptian agricultural exports expected to cost the country around USD 4.2 billion.

In human terms the toll was some 4,075 illnesses and 50 deaths, the overwhelming majority of them in Germany. For expats it serves as a painful reminder of the importance of food safety, no matter where in the world they live.

Food Safety Tips

  • Wash food thoroughly before eating or cooking
  • Clean hands after using the bathroom and before handling food
  • Keep vegetables away from raw meat and fish during preparation
  • Cook meat until the temperature reaches above 70 degrees Celsius (extreme heat kills bacteria such as e. coli)