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Contaminated cucumber
Photo: MDMallett on Flickr

The rare and “super-toxic” E.Coli strain that has infected more than 1,500 people in Germany continues to confound scientists. To date, 18 people from Germany have died from the bacteria, including one Swedish tourist. Most of those infected have been women and young adults. The unique variant can quickly lead to a potentially lethal complication known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) that causes kidney failure.

While the E.Coli was originally thought to come from Spanish cucumbers, authorities now say they cannot locate the source. As a result, Spain has threatened to sue Germany claiming that Germany’s health warning caused millions of euros in losses for Spanish farmers and Russia has banned all European produce.

Excerpts from some of the affected countries’ media:

Russia’s Pravda defends the ban on European produce.

“This proves that Europe’s boasted sanitary laws, which they want Russia to adopt, are not working,” Onishchenko said.

“It was obvious in the very beginning of the outbreak of the infection that the Spanish cucumbers had nothing to do with it. However, they were advertising the version about the Spanish cucumbers for a week,” the official said. “How many other people will have to die in Europe to make European officials proceed from word to action?” he added.

Germany’s Spiegel Online focuses on the cucumber controversy between Germany and Spain.

In the media on Friday, however, considerable attention is focused on tensions simmering between Madrid and Berlin following an erroneous warning last week that the infections may have been caused by contaminated cucumbers from Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said that he will demand compensation for vegetable growers after a German warning that cucumbers from the country were the cause of the E. coli outbreak proved to be false. 

An article in Spain’s The Reader reports on the Deputy Prime Minister’s reaction to Germany’s health warning.

The remarks [by Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister] were made in an interview on radio station Cadena Ser, where he has insisted that the outbreak of the bacterium E. Coli “was impossible to have originated in Spain, because here there were never any cases and if there had been we would have had an outbreak.”