It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
BERLIN — 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.
“We’d all been reading the scary news about the E. coli outbreak in our region for days,” the 41-year-old homemaker said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday. “So I talked with my husband about it and he took me to the university hospital right away.”
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.
“All patients suspected of E. coli were led to a separate location for examination,” remembered Pabst. “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.
“All of us had diarrhea and there was only one bathroom each for men and women — it was a complete mess,” she said. “If I hadn’t been sick with E. coli by then, I probably would have picked it up over there.”
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.
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.
Health officials questioned her about the food she’d been eating, and as a precaution her children were no longer allowed to go to school.
Nobody else in Pabst’s family got sick “even though we all ate the same tomatoes, cucumbers and salads,” she remembered.
The cause of her infection seemed to point to home cooking at her house or a friend’s, unlike suggestions Saturday that many people may have been infected while visiting a port festival in Hamburg last month or a restaurant in the northern German city of Luebeck, where health officials were investigating whether 17 persons might have been infected there.