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German doctors trying experimental E. coli treatments with some success, but fears remain

06-08-2011 08:50 BJT Special Report:EU Struggles with E. Coli Outbreak |

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Faced with an unprecedented outbreak of E.coli, German doctors are trying a new approach: a massive blood plasma exchange programme, in combination with an experimental antibiotic therapy. The new treatment has proven highly successful in curing the disease, but some fear it may do more harm than good.

The antibiotic treatment has shown promise, but concerns remain about possibly fatal side effects. There are even worries the therapy could cause the bacteria to mutate into a super-resistant strain.

Officials at the World Health Organization and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention typically recommend against using antibiotics in E. coli cases. This is because they can cause the bacteria to release more toxins.

The bacteria has killed 23 people and left thousands ill.

When patient Nicoletta Pabst, was admitted with a severe case, the doctors decided to try the experimental antibiotic method on her, along with a blood plasma exchange.

She said, "I received a lot of infusions when I was admitted, four liters daily, more than one could possibly drink. On Friday evening I got antibiotics for the first time, and they seem to have kicked in. Over the weekend I had phases when I felt good."

A farm worker empties cucumbers into a container after failing to sell them due an ongoing food crisis in Europe, in Carquefou, western France. (June 6, 2011)

The only conventional treatments for E. coli are drinking water and intravenous fluid replacement. With early signs of success, the new treatment its being taken up by other German hospitals. Some have even adopted antibiotics as their default treatment for all new serious cases.


Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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