Dr J Gallagher, Employment Health Advisors: Since 1st May, Germany has reported a significant increase in the number of patients with haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhoea caused by verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC). As of Friday 3rd June, 551 cases of HUS have been reported from European Union Member States, including 520 cases in Germany. There have been at least 12 deaths (updates on the situation are available on the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/escherichia_coli/Pages/index.aspx. Cases are mostly adults and women. Most cases are from, or have a history of travel to, the North of Germany (Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg). The source of the outbreak is under investigation, but contaminated food seems the most likely vehicle of infection.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has produced advice for people travelling to or returning from Germany (http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Gastroenteric/VTEC/VTECOutbreakAdviceforTravellers/). Further details on the outbreak are available on the website of HPSC at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Gastroenteric/VTEC.