Saturday, May 28, 2011

'Killer Cucumber' Bug From Spain Hits Britain

A person in Britain has been diagnosed with a lethal strain of E.Coli that has already killed five people in Germany.

Cucumbers in Berlin
Cucumbers for sale in Berlin

Almost 300 people in northern Germany are in hospital and around 500 more are being tested for the infection.
Organic cucumbers from Spain are thought to be the source of the bacteria, but travellers to Germany are also being advised to avoid eating raw tomatoes and lettuce.
The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease centre, said 60 cases had been reported in the last 24 hours alone, and infections have also been confirmed in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Britain's Health Protection Authority has confirmed that three German nationals who travelled from the country fell ill after entering Britain.
One of the cases has been confirmed as having the infection which is causing this outbreak.
A spokeswoman for the HPA said the outbreak in Germany was "very, very serious" and that although the bug was infectious, there had been no reports of secondary infection yet in the UK.
Dr Dilys Morgan, head of the gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic infections department at the HPA, said: "The HPA is actively monitoring the situation very carefully and liaising with the authorities in Germany, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as to the cause of the outbreak.
E.coli Bacteria
E.coli bacteria like these are responsible for the outbreak across Europe
"We are keeping a close watch for potential cases reported in England and are working with colleagues in the devolved administrations to recommend they do the same. In addition we are in the process of alerting health professionals to the situation and advising them to urgently investigate potential cases with a travel history to Germany."
The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the offending cucumbers have not been for sale at any outlets in the UK.
A spokesman for the German consumer affairs minister Ilse Aigner said: "The European Union internal market has very strong safety rules and we expect all EU states to observe them," he said, adding that, for the moment, "one can only speculate about the causes" of the outbreak.
Those hit worst by the infection contract haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a condition that can result in renal failure, seizures, strokes and coma.
In Spain, a spokesman for the AESA food safety agency said investigations were also under way.
"The Andalusian authorities are investigating to find out where the contamination comes from and when it took place," he said.
"This type of bacteria can contaminate at the origin or during handling of the product," he added.
There has been no report of contamination within Spain, AESA said.

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