Frequently asked questions on the EHEC infection outbreak in Germany

Information for the public


1. What should I do to avoid getting EHEC?

In general, measures to prevent enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infection are similar to those recommended for other foodborne diseases, including basic good food-hygiene practice, as described in the WHO five keys to safer food. The main advice is to wash one's hands after using the toilet and before consuming food; to wash food thoroughly with clean water, especially if it is consumed raw; and to avoid cross-contamination when preparing food.

2. Should I avoid eating cucumbers and other vegetables?

People living in the area of the outbreak should follow the advice of the local and national authorities. In general, people should adhere to the strictest hygienic measures on food consumption and handling, as described in the WHO five keys to safer food.

3. What if I get diarrhoea?

People who are in or have had contact with northern Germany recently, and experience diarrhoea symptoms should consult their general practitioners. They should maintain strict hand hygiene, especially if in contact with small children and immunocompromised people. People with severe or bloody diarrhoea should immediately seek medical care and tell the doctor if they have recently been in Germany. They should not self-medicate for diarrhoea, or use antibiotics, as these could make it worse.

Health professionals and authorities should ensure they are informed about how to diagnose and treat such patients and report any cases to national authorities.