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Thursday 22nd August 2019

EU in emergency talks over E coli

7th June 2011

Farming ministers in the European Union are holding emergency talks 10 days earlier than planned, to discuss the E coli outbreak that has killed more than 20 people so far.


Marton Hajdu, spokesman for the European Union's current Hungarian chair, said that EU agriculture and food safety ministers had decided to meet on Tuesday afternoon in in Luxembourg.

Most of the deaths happened in Germany, where the deadly, never-before-seen strain of E coli is still causing problems.

At least 2,000 people across Europe have become ill from the bacterial infection.

Due to the nature of the initial panic, some countries have placed either full or partial bans on fresh fruit and vegetable exports.

Farmers have lost millions of Euros in just a few short weeks, and farmers' organisations around the EU are demanding emergency aid.

The EU commissioner for agriculture,  and the health commissioner, John Dalli, will each attend the meeting.

Hajdu said that Dacian Ciolos, the EU commissioner for agriculture, and John Dalli, the EU health commissioner, would both be attending tomorrow's emergency meeting in order to take stock of the outbreak.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the strain of E coli responsible for the deaths and hospitalisations is extremely aggressive and antibiotic-resistant.

Although Ciolos previously hinted at the possibility of a limited farmers' compensation scheme, he has not said anything definite yet.

Leire Pajin, the Spanish Health Minister, said that Madrid planned to demand an explanation why German and European authorities blamed Spanish farmers for the outbreak.

She said that Spain wanted to express its criticisms over the way the crisis had been managed, at the meeting, and that the country would also ask for compensation.

Meanwhile, the nature of the mutant bacterium continues to baffle scientists, who insist that the epidemic may worsen, and that it may also persist for a long time.

Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist from the University of Aberdeen, said that the outbreak was unusual in that adults, rather than young children, were contracting haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

He said that children under five had had a very hard time with this kind of bacteria in the past, but that now they seemed to be escaping it.

Scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute in China, who gene sequenced the bug in order to determine its precise makeup, said that the new form was highly infectious and toxic.

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