Europe Dealing with E. coli Scare

Disease outbreak has the region pointing fingers over who's to blame for the problem.

Published on: May 31, 2011

Cases of E. coli have been devastating in the United States when they occur and the folks at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control move fast to find the source of the outbreak. An outbreak of the deadly disease - which as killed 14 people so far on the European continent - remains a mystery to authorities in the region.

According to wire reports, the outbreak may have started in Spanish cucumbers, which may be the cause of 10 deaths in Germany. Due to the outbreak, Russia has banned imports of some fresh vegetables fearing contamination. In Italy, authorities are working to keep imports fro Spain, the Netherlands and other European countries out of the region. Austrian authorities are working to make sure suspect Spanish vegetables are removed from store shelves.

A European Union spokesman, quoted in the Wall Street Journal notes that German authorities have identified cucumbers from two Spanish cities as possible sources of contamination. A third suspect batch may have originated in the Netherlands or in Denmark. More investigation is under way.

Germany has been the hardest hit by the outbreak recording the most infections and all known deaths from the disease. While they suspect Spanish cucumbers, they have not found the exact source. Spanish officials are calling on German and EU officials to verify their findings. They deny that the outbreak started in the country. Spanish officials are researching the potential source of the outbreak, but no definitive answer is available yet.

Groups in Spain worry over the country's reputation and call for sanitary checkups perhaps above those required by European Union standards. Meanwhile, Spanish authorities ask that the Germans stop "fingering" Spain for the outbreak. The strain of E. coli found is enterohaemorrhagic E collie - or EHEC for short.