Europe’s E. coli outbreak ‘reaches’ US

Employees of Czech center of national reference laboratories prepare samples of vegetables for molecular testing on EHEC bacteria.
Three people are suspected to have been infected in the US with the deadly E. coli bacteria that have killed 17 in Germany, according to US health officials.

US health officials announced on Thursday that the infected people had recently traveled to Germany. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still waiting for final analysis before any confirmation is to be made, AFP reported.

Concerns are now growing worldwide as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday that Europe is witnessing its first outbreak of a lethal bacterium.

Researchers in Germany have called the E. coli bacteria a “new type of E. coli strain” while Chinese researches have called it an “entirely new, supertoxic E. coli strain, as the deadly disease causes serious liver damage and bloody diarrhea.

At least 18 people have so far died and more than 2,000 are believed to be infected with the deadly bacteria.

As cases of the infection have been found in several European nations, Russia placed a ban on vegetable imports from the EU and slammed their food safety standards.

“This shows that Europe’s lauded health legislation — one which Russia is being urged to adopt — does not work,” consumer watchdog chief Gennady Onishchenko said.

The United Arab Emirate has also placed a ban on cucumber imports from Spain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Germany initially blamed Spain as the source of the bacteria, but has now admitted it did not have enough evidence of its claim.

Recent tests on Spanish cucumbers in Germany showed that while the cucumbers carried the E.coli bacteria, they were not liable for the outbreak.

“Yesterday, it became clear, with the analyses carried out by the Spanish agency for food safety, that there is not the slightest indication that the origin of the serious infection is any Spanish product,” Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in an interview with Spanish National Radio.

Spain is now seeking compensation for the false allegations as it is already struggling with its weak economy.


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