German EColi: Neurological Devastation, Kidney Damage Lasting and Debilitating

The new strain of E.Coli found in Germany was first considered deadly for it’s ability to shut down kidneys. Now physicians know that it goes far beyond the kidneys and also can cause “neurological devastation.”

E.Coli concentrated mainly in Lower Saxony and Hamburg

Those patients who recover may have lasting and debilitating kidney, and/or neurological damage:

Der Spiegel:

“We were all looking at the kidney symptoms at first,” says Wertheimer. “But perhaps EHEC will eventually go down in history as the pathogen that caused serious damage to the central nervous system.” The replacement of blood plasma will likely safeguard most patients from a lifetime of dialysis, as long as there is enough stored blood and available staff at hospitals.

But the bitterest realization of recent days has been that the neurological conditions can develop not only in patients with full-blown HUS, but also in those whose platelet counts have been severely reduced — a much larger group of people. “Three weeks ago I would have said that 15 to 20 percent of the severe cases would develop neurological complications,” says Wertheimer. “Today I would say it’s about half.”

Rolf Stahl, a nephrologist at Hamburg’s University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf, explains that, “Neurologists are being confronted with a totally new disease pattern.” Never before has an EHEC germ been as aggressive — and many consider this to be a new epidemic.

And although the majority will survive, some patients will have lasting and serious health problems. “A considerable number of the patients will permanently lose their kidney function and will be dependent on dialysis for the rest of their lives,” says Stahl.

Cooking all vegetables is the only way to know they will not be E.Coli infected with one strain or the other. Here’s why it matters (more from the article linked above):

The doctors are seeing patients who have trouble finding words, can’t remember things, have extremely severe epileptic seizures or fall into a coma. “Neurologically speaking, EHEC is like a chameleon,” Wertheimer explains. Practically all known complications are associated with EHEC, complications that can also trigger a stroke, traumatic brain injury or meningitis.

But why is this happening? Does the EHEC pathogen migrate all the way into the brain? No, says Wertheimer, it’s more complicated than that. The E. coli strain involved, O104:H4, produces the Shiga toxin. The toxin itself isn’t the only problem, however. The body’s immunological response to the Shiga toxin causes the walls of all blood vessels, including those in the brain, to become inflamed and swollen. The blood vessels can be likened to pipes with an inside lining that becomes thicker and thicker, until they eventually become clogged. When that happens, parts of the brain are no longer supplied with blood and, in the worse case, can be irreversibly damaged.

At the same time, the blood vessels become abnormally porous. Toxins produced naturally in the body migrate into the organs, and water seeps into the tissue. The entire body becomes swollen with edemas. Pressure rises in the brain, which is as firmly enclosed by the skull as a nut by its shell. As a result, epileptic seizures can occur, and entire areas of the brain can malfunction, either temporarily or permanently. This can be extremely dangerous.

The same article compares this E.Coli to the AIDS epidemic:

As in the AIDS epidemic, microorganisms are recapturing terrain once again, and doing so in a perfidious manner. The EHEC bacteria produce even more of their toxin when they die off. If antibiotics were used against the bacteria, the toxin would literally flood the body.

E.Coli has never before been found to produce neurological problems. Symptoms are usually diarrhea and its many unpleasant tendencies, but a young woman mentioned in the article cannot raise on of her arms, and is in great emotional distress. Related: German EColi has Bubonic Plague DNA: Bean Sprouts Bacteria Contains Plague DNA