E. coli death toll at least 48: Germany

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The death toll from an outbreak of a killer strain of E. coli bacteria centred in Germany rose to at least 48 on Tuesday, health authorities said.

All but one of the fatalities from enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) have been in Germany, with the other being a woman in Sweden who had just returned from Germany.

The outbreak, blamed on organic vegetable sprouts grown in northern Germany, has left 3,901 people ill in Germany, 838 of them seriously, Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said.

The World Health Organisation said on its website on Monday that 3,043 people have become sick in 16 countries, 877 of them seriously with kidney complaint haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

The WHO also said that a woman who had travelled to Germany had died from HUS in Arizona in the United States, but that the strain had not yet been confirmed as the same one, known as E. coli O104:H4.

Not included are eight cases of E. coli in France reported last week, three of which are confirmed E. coli O104:H4, as these are considered a separate outbreak, the WHO said.

The German outbreak peaked in late May.

© 2011 AFP

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