Health experts have told Brits to wash salad vegetables as E.coli sweeps across Europe, causing more than 1500 to fall ill and killing 17.

A German who lives in the UK and two visiting Germans have been infected with the E.coli bug, all three have been to Germany and around Hamburg in the last few weeks.

One person has died in Sweden and infections have been reported in Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Norway.

The outbreak was initially linked to E.coli contamination of organic cucumbers from Spain.

Spain since stopped exports and destroyed thousands of tons of cucumbers.

But Germans have admitted that the Spanish cucumbers were not the source of the bug and experts are desperately trying to identify the source.

Officials know the bug has come from contaminated food, but they don’t know what food.

Rolf Stahl, a kidney specialist treating victims in Hamburg, told the Daily Mail: “The situation is deteriorating dramatically for our patients, and the worst thing is that we don’t know what’s causing it.”

Germany battles to stop killer cucumber bacteria

Denis Coulombier, head of surveillance and response for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said: “It’s certainly something we haven’t seen before in the EU and probably in the world.
“Such a large outbreak with so many severe cases has never been seen in the past.”

The Health Protection Agency said: “The Agency is reminding consumers of the importance of basic food hygiene practices when preparing food.

“It is a good idea to wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure that they are clean, and to help remove germs that might be on the outside.”