Danish medical chiefs play down fears of E. Coli outbreak after two children die

The Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed, DPSA) has confirmed that two children have died as a result of complications related to E. Coli poisoning. The two cases are not connected.

Danish medical chiefs play down fears of E. Coli outbreak after two children die
File photo: Esben Salling/Ritzau Scanpix

Two children – one on the island of Funen and another in the Copenhagen area – died due to a rare complication related to VTEC, a strain of the E. Coli bacteria.

Both children died of kidney failure, but the two tragic cases are not connected. A third child also contracted kidney failure but survived, DPSA said.

A consultant doctor and head of department at Copenhagen infectious disease research institute SSI stressed that the cases were not evidence of an outbreak and that the number of cases was not improbable.

“At this time, we have knowledge of three cases of kidney failure from August to September. That is not more than we would expect at this time of year. Fortunately there is nothing to suggest they are connected,” Tyra Grove Krause said.

“They were not infected with the same bacteria, so there is no common source of infection. So it is not an outbreak, but a chance coincidence,” Krause added.

DPSA has confirmed it has consulted parents of children who attend relevant schools or daycare facilities, and that authorities are working to gain a clearer understanding of the circumstances surrounding the cases.

A daycare and private school on Funen, Børnehuset Solstrålen and Gislev Friskole, chose to remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday, local media reported.

Krause reiterated that there was no evidence of an epidemic. General advice for guarding against the specific complications seen in the cases is to thoroughly cook beef and to keep unprepared meat and vegetables separated.

“The type of bacteria that–in rare cases–cause kidney failure are often found in beef,” she said.

“Additionally, there are sometimes cases amongst children who have visited farms and petted cows and goats and not washed their hands afterwards,” she added.

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New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.