E.coli outbreak in Germany reaches 1200 cases, 13 dead – UPDATED

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Germans have been warned not to eat cucumbers until tests identify the source of a deadly E.coli outbreak which local officials say has killed 13 people. It is thought contaminated cucumbers were imported from Spain, but further tests are being carried out.

Germany has registered 1,200 confirmed or suspected E.coli cases so far. With cases reported in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, Germany is set to hold crisis talks later.

In many of the reported cases, the gastrointestinal infection has led to Hemolytic-uremic Syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney problems and is potentially fatal.

One woman was taken to hospital in Poland on Monday. She was said to be in a serious condition after returning from a trip to the northern German city of Hamburg, which has seen the majority of infections.

Authorities in the Czech Republic, Austria and France have taken some Spanish-grown cucumbers off shop shelves amid contamination fears. Czech officials said contaminated cucumbers may also have been exported to Hungary and Luxembourg.

Suspicion has fallen on organic cucumbers from Spain imported by Germany but then re-exported to other European countries, or exported directly by Spain.

Austria has banned the sale of cucumbers, tomatoes and aubergines imported via Germany, while Russia has banned the import of some vegetables from Germany and Spain…

Two Spanish greenhouses identified as sources for the outbreak have been closed and are currently under investigation to see whether the outbreak originated there or elsewhere, said an EU spokesman…

The Sweden-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has called the outbreak “one of the largest described of HUS worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany”…

The head of Hamburg University’s Eppendorf Clinic, Joerg Debatin, said more deaths were expected, as 30 people infected with HUS had lost kidney function.

Wow! Sounds a lot worse than any e.coli outbreaks we’ve suffered through here in the States. Though, the fact that we seem to have outbreaks with some regularity may have people already conscious of food-borne illness and responding more quickly. Including the bureaucrats.

UPDATE: German scientists say they’re now confident after extensive testing the source was not Spanish cucumbers.

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