German authorities conceded last night that contaminated Spanish cucumbers are not to blame for the E.coli outbreak that has killed 16 people and infected 1,200 others. More women than men are falling ill in what is now one of the world’s most deadly E.coli outbreaks. Things are now getting very serious - Russia has threatened to extend its ban on German and Spanish produce to the whole of the European Union, and growers have demanded millions of euros to compensate them for the collapse of cucumber, tomato and lettuce sales.
The Spanish authorities are still fuming at being accused of being the source without any proof and said it caused irreparable damage to their reputation. Denmark, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Sweden and Belgium have stopped importing Spanish produce and Germany told consumers to stop buying it.
The French have accused the Germans of handling the crisis badly and the British have told everyone to wash and peel all fruit and vegetables. So far only three people in the UK have been infected, all of them Germans.
So why are more women being affected than men? One theory is that women are more likely to eat salads than men but no one knows for sure. The problem seems to lie in Germany because victims from Spain, Denmark, France, Netherland, the Czech Republic and Sweden all returned from a recent visit to Germany. The number of people infected in Europe has now passed 1,200 and health authorities are scrambling to find the source.