At least 39 dead from killer bacteria outbreak: Germany

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At least 39 people have died from an outbreak in Germany of a killer strain of E. coli bacteria but the rate of new infections continues to drop, authorities said Thursday.

The national health centre, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), added one fatality to its daily report on the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) contamination, which emerged in early May.

It said the confirmed death toll in Germany itself had risen to 38, in addition to a woman in Sweden who is believed to have been infected during a visit to Germany days before she died.

But the number of new infections "is at a significantly lower level than before", the RKI said.

German authorities on Friday identified locally grown vegetable sprouts as the source of the outbreak and lifted a warning against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

The World Health Organisation has reported more than 3,300 cases of infection with EHEC in 16 countries.

On Tuesday, a two-year-old boy in Germany became the first child to die in the outbreak, which the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has called "the most significant recorded in the world to date."

© 2011 AFP

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