Hospitals in northern Germany are being overwhelmed as they struggle to provide enough beds and medical care for patients stricken by an outbreak of E. coli, the German health minister admitted Sunday.
"The situation in the hospitals is intense," minister Daniel Bahr told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that clinics outside of Hamburg and northern Germany - the epicenter of the E.coli outbreak - should start taking in ill persons from the north.
Hamburg is the epicenter of the deadliest E. coli outbreak in modern history, which has killed at least 18 people since May 2.
More than 1,700 people in Germany have been infected, including 520 suffering from a life-threatening complication that can cause kidney failure.
The situation continues to worsen:
Fear of the aggressive E.coli outbreak also spread to countries outside Europe.
Ten other European nations and the U.S. have reported 90 other cases, all but two related to visits in northern Germany.
The Gulf nation of Qatar on Sunday temporarily banned imports of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from Spain and Germany because of concerns and insisted all other fresh fruit and vegetable shipments from Europe carry a health certificate declaring they are free of the E. coli bacteria.
The United Arab Emirates has banned cucumber imports from Spain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, while Lebanon has banned all vegetables from the 27-nation European Union.
The story below represents one person's experience, which reveals the chaotic situation in Germany:
E.coli survivor describes pain, chaos at hospital
When Nicoletta Pabst woke up last week with stomach cramps and diarrhea at her Hamburg home, it didn't really bother her too much. But when she discovered blood in her stool a few hours later, she got worried.
Hamburg is at the epicenter of an E. coli outbreak, which has killed at least 18 people since May 2.
When Pabst and her husband arrived at the emergency room of the University Medical Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf, they were shocked by the chaotic scenes there.
"When I arrived, there were at least 20 other people and more and more kept coming in, many of them by ambulance."
She said sanitary conditions in the emergency room were abhorrent.
After waiting three hours to be seen, Pabst was told to go home because her blood levels did not indicate that she had kidney failure.
Hospitals in Hamburg have been struggling to provide enough beds for all the infected patients in recent weeks, and several people have said they were initially turned down, only to return days later with much more severe symptoms.
Pabst's stomach cramps and bloody stools also got worse during the night. The next morning she was so weak that she couldn't get up from bed, and her husband called an ambulance.
She was hospitalized at Asklepios Hospital in Hamburg-Altona and taken to an isolation room that doctors and nurses were only allowed to enter when covered from head to toe in protective gowns, gloves and mask.
Her story continues in this article. The source of these infections is still unknown:
"One thing's for sure: as long as the cause of the E. coli outbreak has not been found, there'll be no more vegetables or fruit in our house," Pabst said. "We're only eating deep-frozen meals and spaghetti these days."
Just as Jesus warned - there will be pestilences in this age. We see these types of stories frequently; this is just one more to add to the list.