Europe 'trembling' in face of E. coli outbreak
Posted: May 31st, 2011 - 7:29pm
Source: The Local
The entire European Union is struggling to come to terms with Germany’s E. coli outbreak amid reports that a 14th person had died and hundreds remained ill.
"One problem with Spanish cucumbers, and all of Europe is trembling," Belgium's Agriculture Minister Sabine Laruelle said on the sidelines of an informal meeting in Debrecen, eastern Hungary.
There have been 12 confirmed deaths in Germany following an outbreak of E. coli found on imported cucumbers. Another two people are suspected to have died from it.
Several hundred more are being treated in hospitals for the highly virulent strain of bacteria, which can result in full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes bloody stool and serious liver damage and which can result in death.
Around Europe, other cases – real or suspected – have been reported in Denmark, Sweden, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, France and Switzerland, all of them apparently stemming from Germany.
Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker said Monday he could "understand the German authorities' attitude," after they recommended that people avoid raw vegetables, especially those coming from northern Germany, where most of the deaths have been reported.
At the same time, he noted this had led to a drastic drop in demand, with Dutch vegetable exports towards Germany – which usually amount to some €10 million ($14.2 million) per week – had "virtually stopped" since Sunday.