It’s a bacterium wrecking havoc again! The all-too-common E.coli strain is again responsible for creating the panic of an epidemic across Europe and maybe extending to countries like India, which have been kept on high alert. The E.coli strain is a Shiga toxin producing strain and it has already infected 1800 people across 12 countries, with the toll rising. The bacteria causes acute renal failure, due to a condition medically known as haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
India has been put on high alert, following the alarm from Europe. All Indian ports have been asked to monitor any imported grains, vegetables and fruits from anywhere in the world. Germany was the first to report an incident, followed by Austria, Denmark, Norway, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, Spain, Czech Republic, Netherlands and the United States. The bacteria has claimed 17 lives so far in Europe.
E.coli is a bacterial species known for fast reproduction rates and its ability to mutate with other resistant strains of bacteria to produce superbugs‘. The current strain produces a toxin that causes infection in the various parts of the gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) system, extending into the hepato-renal (liver and kidney) system. The HUS is characterized by renal failure, aneaemia, and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), reports WHO. Symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature, mostly severe bloody diarrhoea, but without fever.
Currently, there is no cure for the bacteria. WHO says that this strain this strain of E coli “is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before. It may also be more virulent than many other isolated strains.
Fatality is not the real fear, with only an estimated 3-5% of the patients dying. We recommend that if you experience any of these symptoms diarrhoea, even mild go to a doctor. The bacteria needs a 3-4 day incubation time before becoming really deadly, so it’s best to prevent than to cure.
WHO has not pressed the panic button just yet, but the spread of the bacteria is alarming. There is also a chance that it may mutate into something deadlier!