Killer bacteria death toll hits 19

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The death toll in Europe from the outbreak of a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria rose to at least 19 Friday when an 80-year-old woman succumbed to the infection in Germany, authorities said.

The woman died in a hospital in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the state health office in Rostock reported.

All but one of the deaths from enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) poisoning, which broke out last month, have been in Germany but infections have been reported in 11 other countries.

Regional German health authorities have reported more than 2,000 cases of people falling ill with EHEC poisoning, with symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting.

In some cases it can lead to bloody diarrhoea and potentially life-threatening conditions such as haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which attacks the kidneys.

Friday's victim had been suffering from full-blown HUS, the health office said.

A large majority of the infections have hit women, according to authorities.

© 2011 AFP

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