According to CNN sprouts grown and packaged in Germany are likely to be the source of the deadly E.coli outbreak in that country. Fatalities have reached 22 and the number of infected has exceeded 2,300 spread across 9 countries in Europe and several other countries outside of Europe.
Our recommendation is to add sprouts to the “avoid” list of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce when traveling in Germany – at least until the authorities issue a final determination on the source of the infections.
An E.coli outbreak in Germany continues to wreak havoc, as the number of infected has reached thousands and the fatalities have reached at least 18. See this article from Bloomberg Businessweek for more details.
It appears that this is a new strain (or variation) of E.coli that has not been seen before and may be the precursor to other outbreaks of this sort. See this article from the Belfast Telegraph for more details. The mutation appears to cause kidney failure and death in some and kidney damage in others infected with the bacteria
Public health authorities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are currently suggesting that people in these areas avoid eating uncooked salad greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. Vegetable washing is highly recommended before consuming any other vegetables and hand washing is a must before food preparation.
The geographical origin of the the problem remains unclear, but to this point it appears that the infection is centered in northern Germany, especially around Hamburg. Although cucumbers from Spain were initially singled out as a potential source of the bacteria, it is now clear that cucumbers from Spain were not the source of the health problem.
We recommend that travelers to Germany should avoid consuming salad, cucumbers and tomatoes. At present nine other countries in Europe are on alert and have recommended avoiding these vegetables. At this time, all of those infected with the bacteria appear to have been infected as the result of consuming salad, cucumber or fresh tomatoes in meals prepared in northern Germany.
Note, there is a possibility that the bacteria was introduced to the produce during packing, shipping or preparation. The types of vegetables in question have been shipped from Germany to other countries, so you might want to consider avoiding salad, tomatoes and cucumbers anywhere in Europe during this crisis. Check with local authorities on the recommendations for the areas in which you will be traveling, as conditions related to infections like E.coli can change with alarming speed.
Snow continues to plague holiday travelers across Europe, as well as in the United Kingdom. New storms and snow have caused more delays at Frankfurt Airport, while the managers at Heathrow Airport seem to be unable to figure out how to remove the snow quickly enough to solve their overload dilemma. However, airlines are not the only ones being influenced by the weather, as travel by trains, buses and cars suffers from long delays and, in some cases, route closures. See this article by DW-World.DE for detailed information on the troubles across Europe and this one from the Guardian about the travel-related troubles at Heathrow Airport outside London.
The weather situation in Europe and the UK is unprecedented and airports and airlines are not prepared to handle situations that fall outside of normal operating conditions. While this is not what travelers want to hear, it is, nonetheless, true. No matter how angry you get about being stuck in an airport, it will not change the situation or get you home any earlier. We know it is not very satisfying to read this, but you will need patience to get through any travel delay. Your stories about the delay will likely become a comedy routine at the next family reunion, even if you cannot believe that you would someday laugh at the incomprehensible disorganization that befallen you on your trouble plagued travels.
Several years ago we spent the night trapped at Heathrow airport, forced to sleep on their cold, hard floors. It was yet another weather related difficulty and British Airways cancelled our flight without notice and said we were on our own. Since we had been in London and were leaving from London, apparently they thought we could return to our home and spend the night. When we made inquiries to the airport hotels, we were told there were none available. When we inquired about hotels in London, our travel agent told us that there were no rooms available due to the storm and that they had never seen anything like it. When we asked about hotels anywhere in the UK, we were told it did not matter as the roads were closed and we could not get there anyway.
Sometime in the middle of the night, airport police tried to evict us for sleeping in the airport and told us we would have to leave. We refused, thinking that even a cell in jail would be more comfortable than the floors in Heathrow’s Arrival Hall. Finally, the constables relented and let us stay. We arrived home several days late and swore that we would never travel again. Of course, we soon began dreaming about some exotic destination where we could sleep on the sands of a nice, warm beach.
France was hit by a 24-hour rail strike that has influenced system wide capacity, although the strike has not affected international traffic. See this source for more information if you will be travelling by train in France today.
On another front, unionized janitors in Germany have gone on strike for higher wages and airports are one of the targets. See this report for more details.