Indonesia goes on alert against E. coli strain from Europe

08:12, June 07, 2011      

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In response to the outbreak of a highly toxic strain of E. coli that has killed more than a dozen people in Europe, Indonesia's Health Ministry on Sunday ordered all international airports and seaports to be on alert for sick passengers, the Jakarta Globe daily quoted an official as saying on Monday.

"It's still too early to be overly scared of this food bug in Europe and the United States, but there's nothing wrong with a little extra precaution," said Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the ministry' s director general for disease control.

He added that there was no need at this point to issue warnings against traveling to Germany or any of the other countries affected by the outbreak.

But Aditama did order health offices at international airports and seaports to immediately report to immigration officers and the ministry if any passengers showed symptoms of food poisoning such as severe diarrhea.

As of Sunday, he said none of the passengers arriving from Europe had displayed any worrying symptoms.

The outbreak started last month in Germany, where more than 1, 700 people have been hospitalized and 17 have died after being infected with a particularly virulent strain of Escherichia coli. Infections have also been reported in 11 other countries including Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and the United States.

Dr. Ari Fahrial Syam, head of the advocacy unit at the Indonesian Internists Association said that E. coli infections were generally not too dangerous, but that the strain of bacteria affecting people in Europe was new and highly toxic.

"The toxin released by the mysterious E.coli strain can cause instant kidney damage, which is potentially fatal," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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