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Eighteen now dead from new E. coli strain as outbreak reportedly spreads to US

Scientists are still unable to determine the origin of the outbreak which the WHO yesterday said was caused by a new strain of E. coli.

Protesting Spanish farmers yesterday dumped vegetables outside the German consulate in Valencia.
Protesting Spanish farmers yesterday dumped vegetables outside the German consulate in Valencia.
Image: Robert Solsona/AP/Press Association Images

THE E. COLI OUTBREAK that has killed 18 people and left hundreds more seriously ill across Europe is suspected of having spread to the USA where three cases of the infection have reportedly been discovered.

The outbreak is confirmed to have affected ten countries who have reported cases to the World Health Organisation (WHO

The WHO yesterday confirmed that the E. coli is a new strain of the virus that has never been seen before.

The health body adds that “numerous investigations” are continuing into the cause of the outbreak and that this is still unclear.

The three suspected cases in the US are reported to be in people who have travelled to Germany recently where the mystery outbreak has killed 17 of those 18 who have died in Europe.

AFP reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is awaiting stool sample analysis before making any confirmation.

The Times (subscription) reports on the escalating trade row being caused by the outbreak which was initially blamed on Spanish cucumbers. However, it has since become less clear as to where it has originated.

Russia yesterday banned all imports of fresh vegetables from EU countries, a move which the European Commission described as disproportionate.

BBC News reports that anger is growing in Spain after it was blamed as the source of the outbreak and that Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said that the country will demand reparations from the economic losses it has suffered.

It is estimated that the latest outbreak is costing Spanish exporters of fruit and vegetables €200 million per week in sales.

In Britain, three British nationals who recently travelled to Germany and four German nationals have been infected with the bacteria.

As yet there are no cases reported in Ireland.

Earlier this week the Food Safety Authority said that there was “no information” that indicated that contaminated food is on sale in Ireland.

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Hugh O'Connell

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