E.coli Outbreak Ravages Europe

Brandenburg Gate

The E.coli outbreak that began three weeks ago continues to ravage Germany. The calamity has taken a toll of 15 lives thus far, besides infecting more than 1,000 people. Some patients have been so seriously affected that they are in intensive care units.

Controversy Over Source of the Outbreak
Health officials are at a loss as to the source of the E.coli outbreak. Initially, Spanish cucumbers had been blamed. But, this prompted a fierce denial in Spain. German officials admit they do not have concrete evidence pinpointing the source.

Deadly Infection
E.coli infection can be deadly because it can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a disease that can contribute to kidney failure and even death. A Swedish woman who was a recent visitor to Germany has become the first death victim outside Germany.

Spain Gets the Blame
Spain is being blamed by many quarters for the outbreak. This has created tension between Spain and countries like Germany and Russia, which have banned some Spanish imports. Other countries that have blocked import of Spanish cucumbers include Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Denmark. Spanish officials refute the blame pointing out that nobody has been affected in Spain, except a recent visitor to Germany.

Spanish Farmers Affected by Blame
Spain estimates that the bans on its agricultural produce have cost a loss of hundreds of millions of euros. Spain says Germany is accusing it without adequate proof, violating E.U.’s agricultural policy. Cucumber farmers in Spain are facing a disastrous situation as their produce has been left to rot because of canceled exports to other European countries.

Germans Blame Spanish Companies
Germany has raised doubts about two Spanish companies in Andalusia that operate 13 production centers. This has prompted Spanish authorities to temporarily close all 13 firms to conduct tests on produce, soil and water. Samples from these sites are being evaluated in a national laboratory and results are awaited.

Prevention is the Best Cure
European health authorities have recalled vegetable products suspected to be contaminated. They advise consumers to throw away vegetables that might be contaminated. Since recent visitors to Germany have been affected, other European nations urge recent visitors to Germany to be vigilant about their health and approach a doctor at the first sign of ill-health.

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