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Friday, June 3, 2011

Germany steps up hunt for deadly E.coli source

Via Reuters Canada :

" BERLIN/LONDON : Racing to curb the spread of a killer food bug, Germany set up a national task force on Friday to hunt down the source of a highly toxic strain of E.coli that killed 17 people and sounded alarms around the world.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, engaged in a trade row with the European Union after Moscow banned imports of raw fruit and vegetables from the bloc, heightened the drama, saying he would not "poison" Russians by lifting the embargo.

Repeating warnings to Germans not eat salad vegetables -- rattling farmers and stores just as they hit high season -- health officials said they recorded 199 new cases of the rare, highly toxic strain of the infection in the past two days.

That took the total of those infected since it was detected in early May to 1,733 -- making it possibly the deadliest ever outbreak -- and suggesting it was spreading as fast as ever.

Scientists struggled to pinpoint the contamination, assumed to be poor hygiene at a farm, in transit, a shop or food outlet.

Health institutes across Europe have tried to reassure the public by stressing that E.coli, a frequent cause of food poisoning, can generally be tackled by washing vegetables and by washing hands before eating to reduce the risk of bacteria being passed on from the feces of an infected person."

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