Death Toll Rises in Europe E. coli Outbreak

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The death toll in Europe from the outbreak of a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria rose to 22 on Sunday.

European health authorities reported the deaths of an additional three people in Germany. Except for one woman who died in Sweden after a visit to Germany, all of the fatalities have been within German borders.

Experts are still searching for the source of the highly contagious bacteria, which can cause acute kidney failure. German officials told reporters Sunday that the culprit may be locally grown bean sprouts.

Health authorities say about 2,000 people, most of them in Germany, have been infected. Ten other European nations and the United States have reported 90 infected people, nearly all of whom have recently been in northern Germany.

Germany's health agency on Friday advised against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces.

The outbreak is the deadliest in modern history to involve E. coli, and appears to be the second- or third-largest in terms of the number of people who have become ill. Scientists say the bacteria is a previously unknown genetic recombination of two different E. coli strains.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.