E. coli deaths could be related to new strain of the bacteria

by Jorge Hernandez on June 2, 2011

At least 17 people have died in Germany due to a potentially new strain of the E. coli bacteria, according to Time Magazine.

CNN reports that Russia is setting up a ban on European vegetable imports in order to prevent the strain from entering the country.

Britain also warned its citizens about traveling to Germany, reminding them that cautionary steps should be taken when it comes to certain vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes.

The British Health Protection Agency issued a statement, saying the following, according to CNN: "[P]eople traveling to Germany [should] follow the advice of the authorities and avoid eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy salad including lettuce, especially in the north of the country, until further notice."

The European Union's Frederic Vincent, the group's health spokesman, also commented about communications with Russia.

"The commission will be writing today to the Russian authorities and we will be liaising and working with them in the coming days to try to find a solution," Vincent said, according to the news source.

Time magazine reports that E. coli is linked to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening if it appears in the acute form. Most of the people affected by this current outbreak are women. In general, E. coli outbreaks cause the most deaths among small children and the elderly. This new case is causing alarm because many of those who have been affected were young adults and those who were not thought to be of high risk.

Escherichia coli often appears in harmless forms, but cases of food poisoning involving dangerous E. coli strains have occurred throughout history.

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