Sharp rise in E.coli cases in Germany

German health officials said today there had been a dramatic increase in the number of people infected in an E.coli outbreak which has so far killed 16 and whose source is still unknown.





The outbreak, centred on the north German city of Hamburg, has made more than 1,500 people ill in eight European countries, and led to an international row over the source of the contamination.



The German disease control agency the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported today 365 new E.coli cases, a quarter of them involving the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication of a type of E.coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC).



European Union officials said three cases had also been reported in the United States, adding that most infections reported outside Germany involved German nationals or people who had recently travelled to the country.



The RKI figures contradicted remarks by European Union Health Commissioner John Dalli, who said the number of new cases appeared to be in decline.



"According to the latest information we have available from Germany, it appears that the outbreak is on the decline. Fewer people have been hospitalised over the past couple of days than before," Dalli told journalists in Brussels.



"Intensive work is taking place to pinpoint the source of contamination ... I urge member states and in particular Germany to increase their efforts in this direction," he added.



German authorities initially identified cucumbers imported from Spain as the likely source of the outbreak.



But yesterday they admitted that further tests on the cucumbers showed that, while contaminated, they did not carry the dangerous bacteria strain responsible for the deaths.



Spain, responding today, said it was considering legal action.



"We do not rule out taking action against authorities which have cast doubt on the quality of our produce, so action may be taken against the authorities, in this case, of Hamburg," Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told radio station Cadena Ser.







Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at Britain's University of East Anglia, said he was not surprised by the German finding that cucumbers were not to blame.



"Cucumbers are not normally implicated in food poisoning outbreaks. They are so easy to clean for a start, and bacteria are less likely to be able to find a protected spot," he said.



"On the other hand, salads are a regular cause of outbreaks of food borne diseases including STEC, like this one, and salmonella. Outbreaks associated with consumption of salads are quite common on both sides of the Atlantic," he added.



Spanish farmers say lost sales resulting from the crisis are costing them 200 million euros a week, and could put 70,000 people out of work in a country which already has the highest unemployment rate in the EU.



Health Commissioner Dalli said he was looking at what the European Commission could do about the impact on producers.



"We are very sensitive to the impact that this crisis is already having on farmers, in particular vegetable producers."



It would be disproportionate to ban any single product because the source of the outbreak is not known, Dalli said.



Several European countries were reported to have blocked entry of Spanish cucumbers, but Dalli said the Commission had received no official confirmation of any import bans.



Russia's consumer protection watchdog repeated a threat to ban all vegetable imports from the EU, having already banned raw vegetable imports from Germany and Spain.



"Despite repeated requests, Russia's consumer protection watchdog has not received information from the European Union about the source of the infection, about dangerous produce or about measures being taken to localise and combat the outbreak," it said in a statement late yesterday.



French government spokesman Francois Baroin said the country had taken the precaution of setting up a crisis unit to deal with a possible outbreak in the country, with health officials across France on alert for signs of new cases.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits