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Where not to eat cucumbers: Ecoli outbreak

altThe current Ecoli (O157:H7) incident in Germany is causing widespread concern in the media. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (EDCDP) there are 373 confirmed cases in Germany. More details are expected when the analysis of the outbreak is completed.

Whilst this is extremely distressing for those directly involved, it is important to note:
Ecoli is endemic in all societies, and such regrettable “peak” outbreaks occur regularly in such developed countries as the United States and Japan. They are containable.
The current outbreak is exclusively associated with Northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine-Westfalia and Hamburg). There appear to be no sources of an outbreak in any other region of Germany, nor any other country in Europe.
Those involved seem to have been exposed to a contaminated batch of cucumbers. There is no evidence that there are any other foods, such as meat or dairy products, involved.
Whilst the occurrence of this outbreak is naturally a cause for concern, the risks posed to travellers even in the affected regions of Germany are extremely minimal.
There are no extraordinary risks posed to travellers in Europe as a whole.
It is always difficult to advice caution when attention is drawn to individual instances. But there is a danger of undue concern occurring where no unusual risk exists. In these circumstances any formal measures (such as the proscribing of uncooked vegetables) seems disproportionate, particularly in areas outside those affected.


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