• Germany's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3

Spanish cucumbers not behind E. coli outbreak

The Local · 31 May 2011, 15:17

Published: 31 May 2011 09:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 May 2011 15:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

At least 16 people, including one in Sweden, have died from a virulent form of enterohamorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which can cause bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure known as haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

But contrary to early indications, imported cucumbers from Spain do not appear to be behind the outbreak. Two samples from a Hamburg market contained EHEC bateria but not the deadly O104 strain.

"Our hope to discover the source of serious HUS complications unfortunately was not realized," said Hamburg's Health Minister Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks on Tuesday. "As before, the source remains unidentified."

Prüfer-Storcks, however, defended last week's decision to link the outbreak to Spanish produce.

"Regardless of the result of the two remaining tests, it was right to make public the results of our investigation as the contamination could very well cause EHEC," she said. "It would have been irresponsible with this number of ill people to keep quiet about a well-grounded suspicion. Protecting people's lives is more important than economic interests."

Several European countries have banned Spanish vegetables, sparking criticism from Madrid amid huge losses for Spain's farmers.

Spanish Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar denied before the results were released in Hamburg that her country was the source of contamination.

"From the beginning, in Germany, Spanish cucumbers have been named as responsible for this situation. We must say that it is not true and we must demand that the Germany authorities wrap up their investigation immediately," she said.

Aguilar called for a "European solution" and slammed Germany's handling of the outbreak.

The situation is "extremely serious" for the agriculture sector, Aguilar said, estimating Spain's vegetable sale losses at "more than €200 million ($288 million) a week."

The Spanish fruit and vegetable producer-exporter federation said sales have halted across nearly all of Europe as the scare rippled across the continent.

Asked which countries had stopped buying Spanish produce, federation president Jorge Brotons told a news conference: "Almost all Europe. There is a domino effect on all vegetables and fruits."

Germany's Health Minister Daniel Bahr warned earlier on Tuesday that the number of cases is likely to grow. "The infection source remains active and we have to reckon with a growing number of cases."

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national disease institute, said Tuesday it has recorded 373 confirmed cases of HUS, along with six deaths. But regional authorities, who have been faster in reporting fatalities, said at least 15 people have died in Germany so far, mostly in the north, and more than 1,200 have been infected.

And in Sweden, the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Boraas said a woman in her fifties who was treated for EHEC after a trip to Germany had died in the first reported fatality outside the country.

The latest reported death in Germany was that of an 87-year-old woman who died in Paderborn in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Hygiene Institute at Münster's University Clinic in western Germany meanwhile announced it had put together a test to quickly identify people infected with the so-called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

The test allows identification within hours of the pathogenic agent in EHEC, the clinic said in a statement.

The agent is "especially virulent and able to resist antibiotics," the hospital said.

"This strand can be described as a hybrid or a chimera that combines different virulent traits," according to Professor Helge Karch from the Münster clinic.

The Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has described the outbreak as "one of the largest worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany."

Around Europe, other cases - confirmed or suspected - have been reported in Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Spain and Switzerland, all of them apparently stemming from Germany.

The Local/AFP/DPA/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Your comments about this article

11:06 May 31, 2011 by Ebolter
" Trembling " ? Just don't eat veggies for a while , cripes !
11:37 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
I recently heard that this contamination primarily comes from animal and bird droppings. But SURELY people normally wash cucumbers together with other vegetables and fruit, bearing in mind how many chemicals that are sprayed on these sort of products. Besides which most cultures would normally peel cucumbers for salads. I do hope the authorities are on the right track !!
12:50 May 31, 2011 by aceroni
Unfortunately, in most places in Germany they will serve you a salad where cucumbers have not been peeled. Also, the problem is not really what people do at home, but what workers do in canteens, restaurants, fast food chains and so on.

Anyway, this strand of e-coli is a human bacteria, it's only found in human feces, ergo, someone must have washed/watered these vegetables in wastewater to save money.
15:04 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
There is another possibility !! I heard only a couple of hours ago that it is common practice all over Europe for vegetable farmers, in order to be economical with water and as a nutrient, to spray crops with water which is tainted or polluted with human sewage. This would explain a lot.
15:23 May 31, 2011 by ovalle3.14
Holy scapegoats, Batman!
15:25 May 31, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:30 May 31, 2011 by auniquecorn
Well the German health authorities, or might as well just say the German gov´t stepped on their dks again,

LETS just blame the Spaniards until we figure out a game plan.
16:32 May 31, 2011 by ALFV
And now what about this minister?. This kind of hamburguer minister said the Spanish cucumbers are the fault and now she says no, and she is still occuping their position without any problem. She should resign and she should take care the more than 200million week in cancelled orders.

It is too easy to say stupid things without any consequence and without any evidence.

I thought that Germany was a serious country.

BR
16:36 May 31, 2011 by melbournite
hang on.. the cucumbers *only* had *normal* e-coli? What the hell are we eating in any case?
17:04 May 31, 2011 by marimay
Whats going on in that pic? Cucumber autopsy?
19:01 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
Another example of the usual German kneejerk reaction ( the other recently was Fukushima )Whoever said the Germans don't panic !!
20:43 May 31, 2011 by ND1000
What, Germany hit the panic button too soon???? Gasp, that never happens. Spain should nail somebody (or country) to the wall for this one.
21:12 May 31, 2011 by hautnah23
The poor Spanish. As long as no one accuses them of getting e.coli on their strawberries, I think their agriculture economy should be able to bear the brunt of this abuse. I'm just glad I can finally order my Döner with "Salad komplett" once again ;-)
21:48 May 31, 2011 by federicoscala
Who's going to pay for this mistake?
23:36 May 31, 2011 by Bishnu
a 87 year old woman died due to E. coli ! how long otherwise people live? in fact she is lucky enoght to live 87 years old ...isnt it???
06:19 June 1, 2011 by harcourt
Apparently a doctor at the Charite hospital,Berlin has said what must be done is to ask surviving victims what they ate, when did they ate it and then compare results. Really !! I would never have thought of that !! - It should have done days ago before having a go at Spain.
11:09 June 1, 2011 by ValP
@ harcourt : in some other article it was mentioned that people WERE actually asked about what they had eaten, but were too sick to answer.... Made me sort of realize - Jeez, these people must have been REALLY sick - statements like that make you grasp that dying of the E-coli bacteria is actually more than mere statistics....
13:38 June 1, 2011 by harcourt
VaIP

You're right this illness shouldn't be taken lightly especially as they haven't yet found the cause. As a total layman surely the high percentage of women sufferers MUST be a strong factor worth pursuing.
21:48 June 1, 2011 by ambar
Right now the German goverment has no idea about what the hell is happening. Maybe they should find another one to blame for one week more.
00:55 June 2, 2011 by mamita
In Spain it is not used wastewater for irrigation, even in the golf course is cleared, agriculture and hydroponic irrigation is used in many places groundwater from aquifers.

And if the problem were of Spanish cucumbers, there would be patients in other countries, especially Spain as farmers here have been in contact with that plant. It is clear that all patients are from Germany or have been in Germany, then the focus of infection is Germany.

Excuse my English I do not speak English
22:05 June 5, 2011 by tattooing18
is not a mistake.

you use to blame others for your BIG mistakes, and you pay with your fate.

but you never learn from your mistakes, maybe is your bad d.n.a..

you believe you're the best and you know everything.

you are the biggest joke in history .......

have luck with your new 4rth conquest, but don't wait for mercy this time.

you're unacceptable from the gherkins to the loansharking ........

a tip. learn to wash and peeling what you eat !!!!!!!!!!!!
Today's headlines
VW bosses forced to pay back private jet costs

Bosses at troubled German auto giant Volkswagen have been forced to pay the company back millions of euros for flights on its private jets, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.

Germany arrests Marxist militant 'leader'
Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / DPA / AFP file picture

A radical Marxist suspected of belonging to a left-wing extremist group accused of terrorism by Turkey has been arrested in Germany, judicial sources said on Saturday.

Afghan teen arrested over German murder-rape
Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / DPA / AFP file picture

A teenage Afghan asylum seeker has been arrested on suspicion of the rape and murder of a 19-year-old female student in Germany, police and prosecutors said Saturday.

Nazi POW leaves estate to 'kind' Scottish village
The former German soldier stayed on to work in the Perthshire village for a time after the war. Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP file picture

A former Nazi prisoner of war has left his entire estate in his will to a small village in Scotland to show his appreciation for the kindness he received there during his captivity.

US tries to block Chinese purchase of Aixtron
Photo: Oliver Berg / DPA / AFP

US President Barack Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese company's purchase of German semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron by rejecting the inclusion of Aixtron's US business in the deal.

Merkel to chart 2017 election battle at party congress
Photo: Tobias Schwarz / AFP

After Donald Trump's shock victory, Francois Hollande's decision not to seek re-election and populism on the rise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is next up on the campaign podium to set out her strategy for winning in 2017 polls.

Berlin vs Munich: whose newborn polar bear is cuter?
Berlin's (left) and Munich's (right) newborn bears. Photos: Tierpark Berlin / DPA

Both city zoos welcomed baby polar bears into the world in November, with Berlin zoo its releasing first photos on Friday. But which one is more adorable?

Learn how to speak German like a silver screen icon
Dirty Harry. Photo: DPA

We all agree that there is no other option than to learn irregular German verbs by rote. But when you want a bit of downtime, why not learn from your big screen heroes?

Stolen Dachau 'Work will set you free' gate found: police
The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: DPA

An iron gate from the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany's Dachau with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") has been found two years after it was stolen, police said Friday.

Mystery flight path artist draws new message in sky
Photo: DPA

A pilot who likes to draw patterns in the sky using his flight path has returned with his greatest artwork yet.

Lifestyle
10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Lifestyle
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
National
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
National
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
Lifestyle
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
National
This is how unequal German society has become
National
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
National
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
National
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
Features
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
Culture
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
Lifestyle
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
International
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
National
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
National
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
Education
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Travel
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
Lifestyle
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
National
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
Culture
10 German books you have to read before you die
Culture
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Features
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Travel
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
6,572
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd