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E. coli outbreak in Europe

A severe outbreak of E. coli, which began in Germany, in May has claimed 19 lives (as of 3rd Jun). Countries around the world have put their doctors & hospitals on alert for the same.

What is E-coli?
Escherichia Coli is a bacteria, commonly known as "E. coli". 
E. coli usually resides in the intestine, of humans & cattle. Several types (or strains) of E. coli bacteria are known to cause food-poisoning and gastrointestinal infections.

How does E-coli spread?
E. coli colonizes in the dairy & beef cattle. It is transmitted through their waste. When water contaminated with such waste is used in farming, the bacteria transmits to vegetables & fruits. Consumption of such infected raw-meat, dairy products, or unwashed fruits/vegetables can result in transmission to humans.

The present outbreak is a result of a hybrid E. coli bacteria, called E. coli O104:H4 strain. 
In other words, a toxic strain of E-coli is resulting in severe food-poisoning &  life-threatening gastrointestinal complications. 

Russia has stopped import of all fresh vegetables from Europe. The exact source of the recent outbreak is yet to be found.

How dangerous is it?
The new E. coli strain is resistant to 3 major classes of antibiotics, which makes it lethal. It makes it harder for the doctors to treat any related infection.

Where is the outbreak?
19 people have died and 500 have been hospitalized, mostly in Germany (as of 3'rd June). Some cases have been reported in Switzerland, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, UK, & US. All affected people have been to Germany, shortly before falling ill.

What are the symptoms?
Severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach-ache.

What precautions can be taken?
Check the source of food products before buying.
Avoid eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and raw meat imported from Germany (until the source of outbreak is found & contained).
Ensure vegetables are washed thoroughly & meat is well cooked, if cooking at home.
Follow the advise & recommendation by your local health authorities.

Please look-out for news on E. coli, in the newspapers & media.