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E.coli on the attack in Gothenburg

Published: 06 Aug 2004 11:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Aug 2004 11:00 GMT+02:00

Last week five Swedes were reported to be recovering from the illness and SMI thought that would be the end of it. However, this Tuesday Peter Ulleryd of SMI confirmed that there are now two more confirmed cases of e-coli food poisoning, as well as three suspected cases.

All ten patients are linked to the popular Gothenburg football event and have eaten food prepared in the canteens of local schools. Health officials refused to pinpoint which schools are involved, arguing that the schools were closed for the holidays and that the kitchens of all the schools providing food for the event had now been disinfected.

E-coli is an emerging cause of food borne illness and can lead to bloody diarrhoea and occasionally kidney failure. It is potentially fatal for the very old and the very young. It is associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef. The cause of this particular outbreak is now under investigation.

Aftonbladet reported this week that there has been a threefold increase in reported cases of Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). By this time last year eight people in Stockholm had been reported infected, whereas this year the figure is closer to 26. The increase can partly be attributed to the fact that from 1st July of this year new legislation demands that all cases of TBE are reported to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI). Yet experts also agree that the mild winter and wet summer have led to a record number of ticks this year.

The usual habitat for TBE risk has also increased from the area around Mälaren and the Stockholm Archipelago to include the area around Vänern and Vättern. Four out of ten people infected with TBE will have lasting brain damage and vaccination is the only protection as the illness can't be cured once contracted.

On a lighter note, using data collected from Peruvian Indians, Swedish researchers have discovered the secret behind the bacteria that causes ulcers and stomach cancers. Peruvian Indians almost all have blood type 0 which makes them extra sensitive to developing ulcers. Bacteria are thought to fasten to the outer lining of the stomach and steal nourishment from the cells' glucose. Although glucose levels are different for different blood groups, the bacteria are now thought to be able to adapt to this. Svenska Dagbladet reported that the discovery increases the possibility of finding new vaccines and medicines for these conditions.

A significant drop in systolic blood pressure may be a forewarning of Alzheimer's disease and dementia in some elderly people, according to a study by a research team at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The team found that a substantial drop in systolic blood pressure (the higher number in a blood pressure reading) predicted the onset of dementia in people with a systolic pressure of less than 160 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).

"Our findings imply that poor blood flow in the brain, resulting from an extensive decline in blood pressure, may promote the dementia process," said lead author Chengxuan Qiu.

Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on sizoo@swipnet.se, or 08 717 3769. More information on www.sizoo.nu.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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