Five infected with deadly bacteria: Dutch health authorities

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At least five Dutch citizens were infected with the mysterious but deadly bacteria that has so far killed 17 people in Europe, the country's health ministry said Wednesday.

"Until now five patients in the Netherlands have been confirmed as having the EHEC bacteria," it said in a statement, referring to enterohaemorrhagic E. coli's more common acronym.

Four of the five were also suffering from haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes bloody diarrhoea, serious liver damage and possible death.

"All five patients contracted the disease while visiting Germany," the statement said, adding "apart from these five there are other ill people being tested for the EHEC infection."

A total of 16 people have now died in Germany and one in Sweden as a result of contamination by the bacteria which has sickened hundreds more since mid-May.

Confirmed cases of the full-blown HUS has risen to 470 from 373 reported on Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease centre, said Wednesday.

These figures relate to official numbers for Tuesday and Monday respectively.

© 2011 AFP

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