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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

French E. coli Outbreak Appears Linked to Germany and to British Seeds

Screen shot 2011-06-26 at 8.36.54 AM.pngAccording to a press release by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), French authorities have reported 10 cases of patients suffering from bloody diarrhea in the Bordeaux region of the country, five of them diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Preliminary bacteriological tests found the E. coli strain O104:H4 to be present in two of the cases. French officials said this was the same strain as that responsible for the outbreak in Germany associated with bean sprouts. They said an epidemiological investigation found that seven patients, who live in close proximity to each other, had attended a recreational center in Bègles near Bordeaux on 8 June. Six of those were said to have eaten bean sprouts scattered on various dishes at the center.

Seedsecoli.jpgFrench authorities said the sprouts had been grown from seeds bought from a shop supplied by Thompson & Morgan. According to Thompson & Morgan the seeds were sourced in Italy and packaged and sold from Ipswich, England.

And, of course, as people are still hospitalized and all facts not know, comes the blather from politicians – “France should pay if E. coli warning wrong!”

There is supposed to be a press conference sometime today.  Germans pointing fingers at Spain cucumbers, French pointing fingers at British seeds and the British pointing fingers at Italian seed suppliers, and European farmers pissed at everyone.

UPDATE – Not including French numbers.  As of last Thursday, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 862 HUS cases, including 30 deaths, and 2,930 non-HUS cases, including 13 deaths. Friday, Germany reported eight additional HUS cases and two new HUS deaths. It also reported 79 additional non-HUS STEC cases and one new non-HUS death. Sweden reported three additional non-HUS STEC cases who visited Germany mid-May. The latest known date of onset of diarrhea for cases is 16 June. In the United States, five confirmed cases and one suspect case of STEC O104:H4 infection have been identified (three with HUS). One death has been reported in an Arizona resident who had recently traveled to Germany.  Total ill – 3,798 ill, 865 with HUS (23% of total) and 44 deaths.  Note: The percentage of HUS is unusual (highest percentage I recall was nearly 18% in 2006 Dole Spinach Outbreak), this could be based on an undercount of total cases or a liberal definition of HUS cases.