"Severity of Europe E. Coli Outbreak Stuns Experts"

"The foodborne bacterial outbreak that has hit Germany and other European nations is unlike anything Western experts have seen: 16 dead and more than 1,000 sick, including nearly 400 suffering severe and potentially fatal symptoms. But several days into the health threat, scientists remain unsure what produce — and what country — is responsible.

Investigators across Europe were frantically trying to determine the scope of the contamination by an unusual strain of the common E. coli germ — and where in the long journey from farm to grocery store the contamination occurred. German authorities pointed to a few cucumbers from Spain, but further tests showed that those vegetables, while contaminated, did not cause the outbreak.

In Germany, where the vast majority of deaths and severe illnesses have been reported, officials said that investigations including interviews with patients have shown that people were likely infected by eating raw cucumbers, tomatoes or lettuce. They are warning consumers to avoid those vegetables, and Russia went so far as to ban imports of those vegetables from Spain or Germany."

David Rising and Maria Cheng report for the Associated Press May 31, 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011