E. coli infection cases rise sharply in Germany

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Germany's disease control center reported on Wednesday 365 new cases of the fatal enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which marked a sharp rise since its outbreak in the middle of May.

Twenty-five percent of the new cases involved the hemolytic- uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication resulting from E. coli infection that affects the blood and kidneys, Germany's Robert Koch Institute said.

Until now 17 people in Europe, one in Sweden, the other in Germany have been killed by the deadly disease, while the source of the infection was still not identified.

According to the data of Robert Koch Institute, at present 470 patients are suffering from HUS due to the infection, raising concerns that the death toll could be even higher in the future.

Germany's Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner defended Germany's previous alert on cucumbers from Spain on Wednesday.

"The fatal strain of EHEC bacteria was indeed found on Spanish cucumbers. According to the European rules, a quick warning must be sent out," she told a local TV station.

Laboratory tests in Hamburg on Tuesday overthrew the previous finding that Spanish cucumbers were the sources of the outbreak.

As a result of the alert, Europe and Russia imposed bans on Spanish vegetables, leaving Spanish farmers a loss of 200 million euros (287.5 million U.S. dollars) a week.

Spain has expressed its intention to take possible legal actions against authorities in Hamburg and ask for compensations from Germany and the European Union.

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