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E. coli cucumber scare: Cases 'likely to increase'

Fourteen people have died in Germany and one woman has now died in Sweden after a trip to Germany.

"We hope the number of cases will go down but we fear it will worsen," said Oliver Grieve, of the University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein, where many victims are being treated.

It is thought cucumbers from Spain caused the outbreak.

But Spanish officials have refused to accept the blame, saying it is still unclear exactly when and where the vegetables were contaminated.

The president of Spain's fruit and vegetable export federation has urged the government to deal with the outbreak, saying it was costing Spanish exporters $200m (£120m) a week.

Asked which countries had stopped buying Spanish produce, Jorge Brotons reportedly told a news conference: "Almost all Europe. There is a domino effect on all vegetables and fruits."

Travel link

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the outbreak as "very large and very severe" and has urged countries to work together to find the source of contamination.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national disease institute, has confirmed 329 cases in the country - though some reports have mentioned as many as 1,200 cases.

In Sweden, authorities earlier said there were 36 suspected E. coli infections, all linked to travel in northern Germany.

On Tuesday, Swedish authorities said a woman in her 50s had died in hospital, after being admitted on Sunday following a trip to Germany.

Cases have also been reported in Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.

This is believed to be an outbreak of the 0104 strain of E. coli.

In many instances, the gastrointestinal infection has led to Haemolytic-uraemic Syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney problems and is potentially fatal.

Suspicion has fallen on organic cucumbers from Spain imported by Germany but then re-exported to other European countries, or exported directly by Spain.

Cucumbers from the cities of Almeria and Malaga have been identified as possible sources of contamination, according to an EU spokeswoman.

Wider ban threatened

Several countries have taken steps to curtail the outbreak, such as banning cucumber imports and removing the vegetables from sale.


E. coli cases in Bristol school rise to 16

Redfield Edge Primary School in South Gloucestershire closed on 20 May after the illness spread through children and adults at the school.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there are 13 cases among pupils and a further four cases in family members.

Three children have been treated and then discharged from hospital, and one further child remains in hospital.

The outbreak is not linked to the E.coli cases associated with salad vegetables in Germany.

Dr David Hunt, from the HPA, said children would have to be checked before they could return to school after the half-term break.

"Parents in Reception and Year 1 are responding promptly to the requirement to have their children tested for E. coli infection."

The agency said no clear source for the illness had been identified.

The HPA said it was also aware of diarrhoea and vomiting in children from neighbouring schools - St Barnabas Primary School, in Warmley, and Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldland Common.

But it said there was no evidence of a connection to the Redfield Edge cases of sickness.

The HPA said parents had reported 40 other children with vomiting and diarrhoea but that there had been no new cases reported since 21 May.