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E. coli deaths rise as mystery deepens

The Local · 7 Jun 2011, 17:26

Published: 07 Jun 2011 14:37 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jun 2011 17:26 GMT+02:00

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The women died on June 1 and May 31 respectively of complications linked to the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), though the cause of their deaths has only more recently been determined, state officials said.

But a spokeswoman for the Robert Koch Institute, the national public health authority, said that it had taken one fatality off the list after the Bavarian health office said the person had not died of the same infection.

The announcements came as the trail grew still colder on the source of the outbreak. Authorities in Hamburg announced that a packet of sprouts bought by an EHEC survivor and originating from the Lower Saxony farm named on Sunday as the suspected source of the outbreak had tested negative for the bacteria.

Hamburg Health Minister Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks said on Tuesday that a 42-year-old patient had been treated for an EHEC-related illness around the beginning of May and recovered. On Monday, he found in his fridge a 100 gram packet of mixed “mild sprouts” from the Bienenbüttel farm that had an expiry date of April 23.

The sprouts showed no signs, however, of contamination. This followed the revelation on Monday that 23 out of 40 samples taken from the Bienenbüttel farm had also tested negative.

All but one of the deaths reported since mid-May have occurred in Germany. The other fatality was a woman in Sweden who had recently returned from Germany. The outbreak has also left more than 2,300 people sick in at least 14 countries.

Health authority the Robert Koch Institute is still recommending German consumers avoid raw sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.

Also on Tuesday, the European Commission announced it would ask European Union states to release €150 million in aid to European vegetable producers whose sales had suffered because of the outbreak.

"I will propose €150 million today," European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos told reporters ahead of an emergency meeting of EU farm ministers in Luxembourg.

The compensation will cover the period from the start of the crisis in late May to late June, he said, adding that the figure could change depending on the losses calculated by different European Union members.

Ciolos added that it was crucial for authorities in Germany, the epicentre of the crisis, to find the source of the outbreak of deadly E. coli that has killed 23 people.

Story continues below…

"I hope that the authorities will be able to give an answer on the source of the infection as quickly as possible," he said.

"Without this answer, it will be difficult to regain the trust of consumers, which is essential for the market to regain its strength," the commissioner said.

The Local/AFP/DPA/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:31 June 7, 2011 by melbournite
"Health authority the Robert Koch Institute is still recommending German consumers avoid raw sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce."

...We also recommend avoiding all other vegetables and fruit, meat, dairy products, nuts and seeds, grain products... just in case. In fact better to avoid food alltogether. You should survive for about 80 days which should give us time to follow another 20 false leads
15:32 June 7, 2011 by catjones
A year later and Germans can't find those responsible at Duisburg and that's with hundreds of witnesses, photos and videos. The E coli debacle is no different: fingers of blame with no evidence, Keystone cops. One can only imagine if there were a real disaster what incompetence would follow.........aka nuclear reactors.

Germany has law and order because they have law and order. When they don't, it's utter ineptitude.
15:43 June 7, 2011 by marimay
I'm eating baby food. Don't judge me!
16:02 June 7, 2011 by Kayak
I wish that EU authorities would stop trying to lay the blame on a German source; you need evidence for that and is proving (pun) difficult to cu-come-ber by.

The solution that the German authorities have used successfully in the recent past is to suggest the source is from outside of Germany; there's no evidence required.

So long as the real source has disappeared in time the problem's solved.

C'mon Angie!!! Come back from the USA and help restore your nation's reputation.
16:15 June 7, 2011 by aardwolf

You can buy only originally packed foreign products, they are usually more expensive and choice is limited, but they can be found still.
17:08 June 7, 2011 by anna artist
It is terribly sad for all those peeople who have died and who are sick. I think the authorities need to investigate other areas ie products from other countries, where practices are not scrutinised like in Germany. Peoples personal hygiene in the food industry. I am disgusted when I see people handling money and food. I thought you had to wear gloves and take. Unbelieable still. Money is one of the dirtiest things you can handle and carries alot of bacteria.Maybe people need to brush up on their hygiene!There is something that doesn't add up here. Is it something that got out of a laboratory? Look at Swine flu.

Somebody please find a cure and the source.

Thinking a loud

17:26 June 7, 2011 by TheBigPhil
You need to be careful if you just write 'sprouts'. To those in the UK, that means 'Brussel Sprouts', whereas 'Bean Sprouts' are actually meant here.

This is not being (too) pedantic I hope!
18:06 June 7, 2011 by anna artist
How about ice cream, mayonaisse, all deadly if left out in this temperature?
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