E. coli in Europe responsible now for 16 deaths

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Hamburg, Germany (BDCi) – Two more people in Europe died of E. coli infections Tuesday bringing the total number deaths to sixteen.

The cause of the E. coli appears to be from eating raw vegetables notably cucumbers. In Germany alone, 373 people were reported to be battling a severe, life-threatening variation of E. coli that attacks the kidneys.

The mystery of the cause was unveiled this week when German regulators in Hamburg tested raw vegetables and found four cucumbers to have at least two strains of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli or “EHEC”. Three of the four cucumbers were Spain imports and the fourth of unclear origin. Despite the finding, the strain on the cucumbers was not linked to the particular strain afflicting those who were sick.

Even so, German officials also conducted interviews of the affected patients who reported the consumption of cucumbers, tomatoes or lettuce as a common activity. Based on this data, the country is warning the public to avoid those vegetables until more information is gathered.

The total number of people sickened by the infection is 1,150, but most of the cases are not potentially fatal. The near 400 patients with the life-threatening kidney-attacking strain raised the eyebrows of a U.S. expert. “The idea of an outbreak of over 300 hemolytic uremic syndrome cases is absolutely extraordinary,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease control.

“There has not been such an outbreak before that we know of in the history of public health,” Tauxe added, stating that the German strain of E. coli has not been seen in the United States.

By Don Weinstein

Staff Writer

Source: Fox News

1 June 2011

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