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E.Coli could last months but cucumbers are not to blame

The outbreak of E.Coli which has infected over 1,500 people could last for months, the German public health body is saying as they admit they are no cl...

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|Jun 2|magazine9 min read

The outbreak of E.Coli which has infected over 1,500 people could last for months, the German public health body is saying as they admit they are no closer to finding the source of the epidemic.

Spanish cucumbers were initially thought to be responsible for the outbreak; however the European Commission has retracted these claims after tests failed to link the vegetables to E.Coli.

The president of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, Reinhard Burger, said “we may never know” the source of the outbreak.

He said “it could be weeks, months” before the number of cases start to come down and that depends on how long the infected food was in circulation.

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So far 17 people have died from E.Coli; 16 in Germany and one in Sweden and approximately 1,500 people are thought to have been infected with enterohaemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC).

A serious complication of EHEC is HUS (haemolytic-uraemic syndrome), incidences of which are also increasing.

A quarter of the 365 new cases of E.Coli reported yesterday were HUS, symptoms of which include bloody diarrhoea.

Many countries are now taking action to avoid or minimise the spread of E.Coli in their part of the world.

Russia has banned the import of fresh European vegetables, Austria has implemented a ban on cucumbers and France and the Czech Republic have reportedly removed Spanish cucumbers from sale.

Meanwhile two cases of E.Coli have been reported in the US in travellers who had recently visited Hamburg.

Burger expressed empathy for farmers in Spain whose businesses have been affected by the false claim their cucumbers were carrying the potentially lethal food-borne bacteria.   

Spain has threatened to file a lawsuit against German authorities as the loss of earnings for Spanish farmers is estimated to be around €200m a week.

Although the E.Coli outbreak has been most prevalent in Germany, there have also been cases in the UK, the US, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain.