PARMA, Italy – The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have issued a joint statement providing an update on the search for the source of a deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe

On May 22, Germany reported a significant increase in the number of patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhea caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Since May 2, more than 400 HUS cases and more than 1,000 STEC cases have been reported in Germany. Other HUS and STEC cases linked to the outbreak have been reported in several other EU/EEA countries — Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Although HUS cases are usually observed in children under five years of age, more than 80 percent of the victims in this outbreak are adults, with a clear predominance of women (about 68 percent). The source of the outbreak has not yet been confirmed and investigations continue. German health authorities suspect that contaminated food is the vehicle of the outbreak, with current investigations focusing on the consumption of raw tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and lettuce.

Regarding the present outbreak of STEC in Germany, the precautionary recommendation was made by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment to avoid consumption of raw vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce in the northern part of Germany until the source of the outbreak has been identified.