MOPH on alert for new strain of E. coli at airports


BANGKOK, 3 June 2011 – The Ministry of Public Health has ordered disease control checkpoints at all international airports to watch out for the new strain of E. coli with special attention to be paid to those arriving from Germany.

According to Spokesperson of the Department of Disease Control MD Rungrueng Kitphati, the World Health Organization recently announced that the new O104 strain was a mutated form of the common E. coli bacteria but was more dangerous and infectious. The new bacteria reportedly originated in Germany and have caused an outbreak across Europe with at least 18 fatalities and 1,600 infected patients so far.

MD Rungrueng stated that all international airports in Thailand had been instructed by the Public Health Ministry to be more stringent at their disease control checkpoints. People coming from Germany are to be closely monitored for signs of infection with E. coli O104. Any of them who have diarrhea will be examined while samples will be collected for laboratory tests. However, the Spokesperson urged the public not to panic over the issue as it was still unlikely for the new bacteria to reach Thailand.

Although E. coli O104 was first detected in cucumbers, it can also be found in other kinds of farm produce, such as tomatoes and lettuces. Infected patients have developed such symptoms as mucous bloody diarrhea, convulsion and loss of consciousness.