Germany’s massive outbreak of E. coli shows no sign of diminishing in one of the worst spreads of the poisonous bacteria ever experienced by a country. Approximately 1,700 people have been infected — most near the northern German port city of Hamburg.
German authorities have admitted that although E. coli was discovered on cucumbers imported from Spain, the bacteria were of a strain different to that which has caused 18 deaths so far.
The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, has reported almost 200 new cases of E. coli infection in Germany during the first two days of June. In total, 1,733 are known to have been infected in the country, with 520 suffering from life-threatening hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), this is a disorder that usually occurs when an infection, usually E. coli, in the digestive system produces toxic substances that can get into the blood stream and cause kidney disease. It is most common in children and the elderly. Symptoms include diarrhoea first, which may contain blood. It is a serious condition but around 98% of people recover.
The Institute said, a study conducted with health authorities in Hamburg — the north German city that seems to be at the epicentre of the outbreak — found that people who fell ill had been “significantly more frequent consumers of raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce” than a sampling of healthy people.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency confirmed that the number of cases in Britain had risen to seven from three, with the bacteria found in people who had recently traveled to Germany.
The World Health Organization said that Austria reported 2 cases, Denmark 7, France 6, the Netherlands 4, Norway 1, Spain 1, Sweden 28 and Switzerland 2. The organization said that all but two were people who had recently visited northern Germany or, in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany.
With hospitals coping with seriously ill victims, sectors of European agriculture staggering and consumers weighing what foods are safe to eat, Russia on Thursday extended a ban on fresh vegetable imports beyond Spain and Germany to encompass all of the European Union, drawing a sharp response from European officials who called the move “disproportionate.”