German officials suspect cucumbers from Spain are the source of a massive enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) outbreak that has hit the northern parts of the country. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), so far 214 patients have developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially deadly complication of an EHEC infection, characterized by a destruction of red blood cells and severe kidney problems. There are reports that as many as five have died to date.
Local authorities in Hamburg announced today that they had isolated the bacterium that is likely causing the outbreak, E. coli O104:H4 , from four cucumbers. Three of the samples came from a big market in Hamburg that sells to greengrocer’s shops as well as restaurants and caterers. Those cucumbers came from two organic producers in Spain.