E. coli outbreak spreading in Germany
More than 270 people in Germany have fallen seriously ill because of a potentially deadly bacteria which has been found in imported Spanish cucumbers, officials said Friday.
The Robert Koch Institute, the national disease centre, said more than 60 new cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) had been reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 276. Two people have died.
The ministry of consumer affairs said a nationwide special warning had been issued, adding that investigations were underway to track the origin of contaminated vegetables which have been ordered withdrawn from the market.
German authorities have identified organic cucumbers from Spain as a source of the bacteria which has also led to food poisoning in Sweden, Denmark, Britain and the Netherlands.
Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner was to speak by telephone with her Spanish counterpart about the issue later Friday, her spokesman told a regular news conference.
"The European Union internal market has very strong safety rules and we expect all EU states to observe them," he said, adding that, for the present, "one can only speculate about the causes" of the outbreak.
A spokesman for the health ministry said that the number of infections was still growing.
© 2011 AFP