Many European countries have experienced outbreaks caused by a dangerous strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, and two countries have, to date, reported deaths related to these outbreaks. Responses have involved actions that implement and affect international legal regimes on public health and international trade. This Insight describes these E. coli outbreaks and the international legal issues the outbreaks have raised.
The European E. coli Outbreaks
A new swine influenza virus is causing outbreaks in humans in Mexico, the United States, and Canada, and the virus has possibly spread to other countries. This outbreak has alarmed public health officials because of its epidemiological characteristics, which indicate that the virus may be able to cause a pandemic.
In February 2007, international media reported that Indonesia had decided not to continue to share with the World Health Organization (WHO) samples of avian influenza A (H5N1) strains appearing in Indonesia. Instead, Indonesia decided to pursue a commercial arrangement with a pharmaceutical company, which would use the samples to develop an avian influenza vaccine for Indonesia.