25 May, 2011

Summary of e. coli outbreak in Germany; Chickenpox in Ukraine; United States deals with equine herpes outbreak

E. Coli Spreads in Northern Germany
An outbreak of a serious strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) is spreading throughout Germany, mostly among young females.

Although most of the strains of E. coli are relatively harmless, the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strain is a particularly serious one because it can be fatal. EHEC is typically transmitted through contaminated foods such as undercooked or raw meat. EHEC symptoms include stomach cramping and diarrhea and eventually hemorrhagic colitis or bloody diarrhea.  If untreated, EHEC can lead to anemia and kidney failure.

Germany authorities have confirmed three deaths from EHEC so far.  The first death was an 83-year-old woman in Lower Saxony who was admitted to the hospital on May 15th.  The second confirmed death was an 89-year-old woman in Schleswig Holstein.  Finally, the third victim was a 24-year-old woman in Bremen who died on Monday the 23rd. Some investigators think that the reason why this outbreak is affecting more women is that it is spreading in contaminated lettuce.

Ten people have been hospitalized in Frankfurt with another 50 experiencing mild symptoms. In Hamburg, another forty patients are being treated for EHEC as well. Other cases have been confirmed in the Northern part of Germany including Rostock, Lower Saxony, Bremen and Schleswig Holstein.  There are up to 600 suspected cases across Germany.

Health Authorities are currently re-examining food deliveries and some company food canteens have been closed since Friday. People are strongly encouraged to wash their hands more than usual and to thoroughly cook all food.

Chickenpox in Ukraine
Many children around the world become infected with chickenpox. However, there has been an increase in the number of patients with chickenpox in many regions of Ukraine. With 6,500 recorded cases of chickenpox in children since the beginning of 2011, Kiev has had three times the number of infections than during the same period in 2010 when less than 2,000 cases were recorded.

The NIH describes chickenpox as a classic childhood disease. “A child or adult with chickenpox may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. Chickenpox is caused by a virus… In most cases, it is enough to keep children comfortable while their own bodies fight the illness.”

В Украине свирепствует ветрянка. Рост числа больных ветряной оспой сейчас констатируют в каждом регионе. Так, только в Киеве с начала этого года больных киевлян зафиксировано втрое больше, чем за такой же период 2010-го. Сейчас в Киеве 6500 зараженных ветряной оспой детей, за такой же период в прошлом году не было и 2 тысяч.

Equine Herpes Outbreak in Western States
Several horses have become sick with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) and Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopahy (EHM) after attending a horse show in Utah. The National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships ran from April 27th to May 8th in Ogden, Utah. The U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported that any horse owners who brought horses to Ogden have been warned about the spread of EHV-1.

EHV-1 is a highly contagious disease that affects horses and causes Rhinopneumonitis (respiratory problems), abortions, and myeloencephalopathy. All of the horses that have died or are being treated for EHV-1 have been vaccinated for Rhinopneumonitis, but the strain going around is actually immune to the vaccine, making it particularly dangerous. EHV-1 can be directly transmitted from horse to horse, but also through contaminated equipments, feed and tack.

As of Saturday, there have been 16 confirmed cases of EHV-1 in California, one in Texas, two in Idaho, one in New Mexico, two in Oregon, five in Utah, nine in Colorado, one in Arizona, and five in Washington state. Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and Wyoming are all on high alert about the outbreak, but are yet to report any confirmed cases. The outbreak has also spread to Alberta, Canada. As of May 21, there were three confirmed cases and eight suspected ones in Alberta.

This outbreak is very serious and horse owners in the West are warned to be cautious and restrict travel. Several horse shows have been cancelled in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus.

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