UPDATE 31 May 2011 - The Czech Republic may have its first case of an E. coli infection, whose epidemic in Germany have already claimed 14 lives.
The possibly infected person is a US tourist who came to Prague on Friday from North Germany, where the outbreak is centered. The woman who suffers from bloody diarrhea has confirmed that she ate vegetable salads in Germany.
The tourist is hospitalized in Na Bulovce hospital in Prague. The hospital is currently conducting tests to verify whether the woman is really infected with E. coli.
The original article from Monday 30 May is here:
Prague - Spanish cucumbers believed to be the source of a dangerous intestinal infection were imported also to the Czech Republic. At least 120 cucumbers were delivered to Central Bohemian stores.
This was confirmed by Michal Spáčil, a spokesperson of the State Agricultural and Food Inspection. According to Spáčil, the contaminated vegetables were imported from Germany.
The vegetables were imported by a Czech company named Country Life, which supplies several restaurants and shops in Prague with its products.
On Sunday 29 May, German Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner yet again warned again the consumption of raw tomatoes, salads, and cucumbers which could be the source of the deadly infection.
Spáčil said that its organization identified all stores that received the possible infected vegetables and informed them about the situation.
"Worst outbreak in German history"
Meanwhile, the dangerous infection is spreading throughout Europe. There are already ten victims of the bacteria called enterohemorhagic Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli. More than one thousand have been infected.
In addition, experts believe that the current epidemic has not yet reached its peak.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, Sweden, has described the outbreak as one of the largest of its type in the world, and the worst in the German history.
In Hamburg, Germany, doctors have started to prescribe a new kind of drug against kidney failure. However, they remain cautious, warning that several weeks of treatment will be needed to know whether the medicament is effective in treating E.coli infection.
In the Czech Republic, no case of E.coli infection have been registered so far. Czech retail stores have started to withdraw vegetable imported from Spain.
Spain producers suffer heavy losses
The situation has negatively affected agricultural producers in Southern Spain. According to DPA agency, local producers consider suing Germany for the economic loss they suffered.
"Practically 100 percent of the orders from Germany have been canceled," said Fulgencio Torres, president of the association of producers in Andalusia, an autonomous region in Southern Spain. For Spanish growers, Germany is the key market. Experts believe they lose EUR 8-10mil every day.
However, even agricultural producers in Germany complain that the E.coli panic is shrinking their sales. According to a survey conducted for a Germany weekly Bild am Sonntag, 58 percent of Germans have stopped eating raw vegetable recently, out of the fear of infection. The fear is largest among older people - 70 percent of Germans above 60 years of age now do not eat raw vegetable.
German scientists have discovered that the disease is caused by a bacterial strain HUSEC 41. The problem is that the bacteria has mutated and is resistant to antibiotics. The solution, according to medics, is to eat only properly cooked vegetable.