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New Scientist Article. The outbreak of a rare strain of E. coli in Germany in May seems to have subsided, with no new cases since 11 July, after 3918 people fell ill and 42 died. The outbreak was traced to Egyptian fenugreek seeds used to grow sprouts, a frequent source of food-borne bacteria. The European Union has banned the seeds.
The trouble is that the bacterium has been knocking around Germany for a decade, and may still lurk in people who are symptom-free. Earlier this month German health authorities tested stool samples from a school in Paderborn, where there were four known infections. They found 18 of the 30 children tested carried the strain, but had no symptoms. Worse, three kitchen workers at the school and three at a catering company supplying it were also carriers. The survey continues.
This "substantial proportion of subclinical infections is the main reason for concern at this stage", says the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, Sweden. "Considering the large number of summer festivals in the EU, with sometimes inadequate food hygiene standards", people should remember "the need for proper hand washing".