CHP is closely monitoring the outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in Germany

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - A spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health said today (May 30) that the CHP is closely monitoring the outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in Germany.

The spokesman said that according to the latest information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 276 haemolytic uraemic syndrome cases have been reported since the second week of May. The majority of the cases were adults and three of them died.

The unusual Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serogroup O104 is suspected of being the pathogen likely to be associated with this outbreak.

Although investigation is still being conducted, cucumbers are suspected to be the source of the infection, according to the WHO.

EHEC is commonly found in the gut of animals, mainly ruminants such as cattle.

The disease is primarily transmitted to humans through consumption of undercooked contaminated foods or water. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhoea and occasionally fever and vomiting. In some severe cases, the disease may be complicated with haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which can lead to renal failure.

The spokesman said that the CHP has contacted the WHO and the German health authorities for further information on the outbreak.

In Hong Kong, the annual number of cases of E. coli O157:H7 recorded by the CHP ranged from two cases to six cases between 2008 to 2010. As of May 29, the CHP had recorded one case of E.

coli O157:H7 infection this year. Among these cases, no complication of haemolytic uraemic syndrome has been reported. E.

coli O157:H7 is the most important serogroup of EHEC.

To prevent infection, members of the public are advised to cook food thoroughly before consumption. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating high-risk food, such as unpasteurised milk, soft cheese, prepared or stored salads and cold meats.

"As a precautionary measure, the health authorities of Germany also advised people to abstain from consuming raw tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy salads in Germany," the spokesman said.

"Travellers should maintain strict personal and food hygiene during travel. They are advised to consult doctors immediately if they develop gastrointestinal symptoms."

Published on: 2011-05-30

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