Friday, May 27, 2011

Naked dance of E. coli in the land of Theodor Escherich and Robert Koch

I arrived in Berlin and Jena on a collaborative mission amidst the EHEC infection epidemic developing in Germany. My German cooperation partner, Lothar Wieler, an expert of pathogenic E. coli is busy all days giving interviews and briefings to the charged German media. It is very strange and unexpected that the severity of the infection by enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) could be so deadly to kill half a dozen people in a highly developed setting such as Germany - the land of Robert Koch, Escherich and Loeffler. Due to a strange serotype, many labs could not identify the organism involved, while 5 cases succumbed already. The beauty, however, is that the Germans could isolate the bug and sequence entire genome of the underlying EHEC in just 2 days! Now they have all the high-tech arsenal for diagnostic and the cases are being reported left and right, exceeding nearly 300. It is said the bacteria are ESBL producers and are hitting women harder than men. The origin is unclear but Spanish cucumbers are blamed amidst arguments and counter arguments passed on the source of infection. I think it will be important now to see how Germany (a country bestowed with age old knowledge and institutions specializing in microbiology and a very strong healthcare setup with a perfect antibiotic policy) deals with this scourge in time to remain an acclaimed champion of microbiology and hygiene. My stomach is making strange -- gur gur gud --- (sounds) when I write this blog although I am not such a big fan of salads! I think I got in to psychosis of EHEC myself, imagine the psyche of the public at large! and that of babes who only eat salads to keep slim! I hope all will be well and good sense prevails - Amen.