Reports: Conflicting German theories on source of E coli strain
Conflicting theories on the origins of the E coli outbreak, which has killed 18 people in Germany so far, emerged in the country's media on Saturday, DPA reported.
A restaurant in the northern coastal city of Luebeck, near Hamburg, was probed by health experts after 17 people who had eaten there became infected with the virulent strain known as enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), the regional daily Luebecker Nachrichten reported.
However, Focus magazine reported the origin could lie in an anniversary celebration for the port of Hamburg at the beginning of May. The celebrations drew around 1.5 million visitors over the period May 6-8.
Both reports were based on information that experts from the Berlin-based Robert Koch Institute, which is responsible for disease control and prevention and falls under the federal Health Ministry, had probed the conflicting theories.
The institute could not be reached on Saturday for confirmation.
The national daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung earlier reported in its online edition that 34 women from a trade union organization had met in Luebeck May 12-14 and that at least had eight come down with the EHEC bug, one of whom had died.
A Hamburg hospital admitted the first cases suffering from EHEC in mid-May. The outbreak has since claimed at least 19 lives in Europe.
Initial theories that the bug originated in Spanish cucumbers or in fresh produce from the Netherlands have largely been discounted.
German health authorities are advising against the consumption of raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Vegetable growers and traders have had to discard large quantities of produce and suffered serious economic consequences.
The World Health Organization reported that by Thursday, 1,122 cases of EHEC had been reported, with 502 cases of haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure caused by this E coli strain, resulting.
Eleven European countries and the United States had all notified cases, the WHO said.