Germany is fighting to curb the spread of a deadly cucumber bacteria which has killed 14 people.
The battle comes as several countries have banned Spanish vegetables after some cucumbers from Spain were found to carry the bacteria.
Germany’s national disease institute The Robert Koch Institute has recorded six deaths and 373 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life threatening condition which causes patients to lose kidney functions and suffer epileptic fits.
But regional authorities say more than 1200 people have been infected and 14 people have died.
The outbreak has been described as “one of the largest worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany,” said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The Hygiene Institute at Muenster’s University Clinic in western Germany has created a test to identify people infected with the Shiga E.coli.
The clinic that that the pathogenic agent is “especially virulent and able to resist antibiotics”.
“This strand can be described as a hybrid or a chimera that combines different virulent traits,” said Professor Helge Karch from the Muenster clinic.
Other cases have been reported in Denmark, Sweden, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, France and Switzerland, all having originated from Germany.
Belgium and Russia has banned vegetable imports from Spain.
But Spanish Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar has denied that Spain was the source of the contamination.
“From the beginning, in Germany, Spanish cucumbers have been named as responsible for this situation. We must say that it is not true and we must demand that the Germany authorities wrap up their investigation immediately,” she said.