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Youngest victim

June 14, 2011

A two-year-old boy has become the first child to die in an outbreak of the virulent strain of E. coli in Germany, taking the death toll to at least 37.

bean sprouts
The bacteria was sourced to organic bean sproutsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Authorities confirmed Tuesday that a two-year-old boy was the latest victim to die after being infected with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

The child died in hospital in the northern German state of Lower Saxony overnight on Tuesday. Previously the youngest victim from the weeks-long outbreak was a 20-year-old woman.

The death toll from the outbreak now stands at 37. Germany's national disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said 3,228 people had fallen ill from the EHEC bacteria or from linked kidney problems (haemolytic uraemic syndrome or HUS).

However, the RKI said on Monday there were signs the rate of infection was slowing. "For many days the number of new infections from EHEC or HUS has declined in the country," the agency said in a statement.

Lettuces growing in a field
The RKI has declared lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber are safe to eatImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Taiwan ban

After weeks of searching for the source of the bacteria, German authorities on Friday identified the origin as being vegetable sprouts from an organic farm in the northern German state of Lower Saxony.

The farm has been closed and all its products recalled, although authorities said the farm had done nothing wrong.

On Monday, Taiwan announced it was suspending imports of bean sprouts from Germany as a precaution against the bacteria.

Following the discovery of the source, the European Union Health Commissioner John Dalli said in Malta on Monday the problem was "under control."

He added they would continue to register new cases over the next two weeks, due to the two to eight-day incubation period for E. coli.

All but one of the 37 deaths from the EHEC strain have been in Germany, with the other being a woman in Sweden who had recently travelled to the country.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa, AP, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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