Europe’s E.coli outbreak – as it happens

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 3rd June 2011

The deadly European E.Coli outbreak began in Hamburg and has spread its way across Europe. With news on this serious issue moving quickly, here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far.

26 May 2011 – GERMANY: E.coli linked to Spanish cucumbers
The European Commission notifies its member states that organic cucumbers from two locations in Spain are the source of the E.Coli outbreak affecting Germany and four other EU countries. The Commission says the outbreak is responsible for two deaths in Germany, with a total number of 214 cases.

27 May 2011 – Spain suspends the activities of two suspect cucumber distributors
The Spanish Authorities inform the European Commission that it has suspended the activities of the two farms in Almeria and Malaga which have been suspected of distributing the E.coli contaminated cucumbers to Germany.

31 May 2011 – Doubts are cast on origin of E.coli outbreak
Germany’s national disease centre confirms it does not know the source of the E.coli outbreak. The strain of E.coli that has caused the 16 deaths and hundreds of cases of illness is now confirmed to be from a different strain to that in the contaminated cucumbers.

Russia bans the import of raw vegetables produced in Germany and Spain, including tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce.

1 June 2011 – SPAIN: Madrid hits back over mistaken E.coli accusations
The Spanish government and local trade bodies hit back at the German public health ministry following the confirmation that the country’s cucumbers did not cause the deadly E.coli outbreak. Trade bodies call for the resignation of Hamburg’s heath minister, Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, for “acting irresponsibly” and seek compensation for the EUR200m (US$288.7m) a week in lost sales.

2 June 2011 – RUSSIA: E.coli outbreak prompts Russia to ban EU vegetable imports
Russia has banned the import and sale of all vegetables from the European Union.

2 June 2011 – GERMANY: WHO says E.coli strain was previously unknown
The World Health Organisation has said that the E.coli bacteria that has caused the outbreak is a new strain. The WHO said the strain is a mutant form of two different E.coli bacteria.

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