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E.coli cucumbers may be in Austria

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Cucumbers from Spain at a market in Hamburg, northern Germany (AP)

Cucumbers from Spain at a market in Hamburg, northern Germany (AP)

Cucumbers from Spain at a market in Hamburg, northern Germany (AP)

Small numbers of Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination with a potentially deadly bacteria are being recalled from shops in Austria and the Czech Republic to prevent the spread of an outbreak that has killed at least nine people and left hundreds ill across Europe, officials have said.

Czech officials said 120 organic Spanish cucumbers suspected of contamination by the potentially fatal bacteria were being pulled off shelves.

Health authorities in Austria said small numbers of the cucumbers were being recalled from stores there.

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said it had issued an immediate recall of the cucumbers. That also applies to tomatoes and eggplants.

The agency said some of the vegetables may have been sold and it is urging consumers to throw them away.

The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority said cucumbers from a contaminated shipment also went to Hungary and Luxembourg. There were no immediate reports of illness there.

The cucumbers transited Germany, where at least nine people have died and almost 300 have been made ill by hemolytic uremic syndrome. HUS is a rare complication arising from infection associated with the E. coli bacterium.

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Almost a dozen people with HUS have been admitted to hospital in Sweden in the past two weeks after travel to Germany. In Denmark, eight people are in hospital with E.coli infection that could be linked to the outbreak.

A European Union spokesman said two greenhouses in Spain which were identified as the source of the contaminated cucumbers had ceased activities. The water and soil there are being analysed to see whether they were the problem or the contamination occurred elsewhere, said Frederic Vincent, the spokesman. The results of the tests are expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.

The EU notified member states on Friday of the source of the outbreak, which has affected primarily the Hamburg area of Germany and, to a lesser extent, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Vincent said he was not aware of an EU warning having gone to other countries.


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