E. coli Outbreak May Be New Strain
Germany, U.K. Are Hit Hard as E. coli Cases Spread Across Europe and Possibly Enter U.S.
Cucumbers Initially Blamed
Initial reports in Germany blamed Spanish cucumbers for the outbreak. These have not been confirmed and investigations are continuing.
The Health Protection Agency says that until the sources are found, anyone visiting Germany should avoid raw tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy salad including lettuce, especially in the north of the country.
The Health Protection Agency is working with the authorities in Germany, the European Centre for Disease Control, and the WHO.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a serious complication from VTEC infection that affects the blood, kidneys, and in severe cases, the central nervous system. It requires hospitalization and can be fatal.
Most people normally carry harmless strains of E. coli in their intestines. The harmless strains and the type causing illness are usually contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It can also spread from other people or animals through contact with feces.
Dilys Morgan, head of the gastrointestinal, emerging, and zoonotic infections department at the Health Protection Agency, says in a statement, "The HPA continues to actively monitor the situation very carefully and we are working with the authorities in Germany and with our counterparts across Europe as to the cause of the outbreak.
"We have alerted health professionals to the situation and advised them to urgently investigate and report suspected cases with a travel history to Germany."
Russia has banned the import of fresh vegetables from the European Union. Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia’s consumer protection agency, was quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying: “Fresh vegetables produced in these counties will be withdrawn from circulation on the territory of Russia."
Spanish authorities have threatened legal action because of lost vegetable sales.