E. coli Outbreak: Update #3

As the total number of cases of infection with Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O104:H4 continues to climb, German authorities continue to in their efforts to pull together the remnants of their incompetent, inadequate, ill-conceived, and belated investigation in order to pinpoint the source of the deadly bacteria that has sickened more than 2400 and killed at least 22. Though epidemiology can be a dodgy practice, certainly past similar outbreaks have been successfully sorted out and the source of the outbreak determined in much less time. Confounding the German efforts is their lack of an immediate response — interviewing affected persons, etc — when the outbreak was first noted. Despite the fact that tests for E. coli O104:H4 at the organic farm once thought to be the source of the sprouts harboring the deadly bacteria were negative, the Germans may be right; the sprouts may in fact be the source. Unfortunately, the shelf life of sprouts is such that the German’s lackadaisical response to the outbreak most probably resulted in the source of contamination having long since been wilted and disposed of.

In other words, the Germans will most probably never sort out the source of this particular outbreak.

While the number of cases continues to grow (see Figure 1 below), and another nation — Luxembourg — has confirmed the presence of EHEC O104:H4, the total number of new cases continues in the downward trend (see Figure 2 below) noted by The Reactionary Researcher (TRR) in yesterday’s E. coli Update #2.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Despite the noise contained within these data, the overall trend seems clear: While the total number of cases of EHEC and HUS continue to increase, the total number of new cases reported relative to previous days continues to decrease. These facts combined with the fact of the German’s frantic efforts to pinpoint the source of contamination, coupled with their noted inability to locate said source indicate the danger of new infections associated with this particular outbreak is most probably over. Isolated cases, people with longer than average incubation times, and people who finally decide they’re sick enough to report to the Doctor will continue to trickle in over the next several days, perhaps as long as a week or two, but the original source of the outbreak is long gone, and with it any immediate danger.

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