The European Union has called a special session for Tuesday to examine the recent virulent E. Coli outbreak across Europe that has already killed 22 and infected more than 2,260, mostly in northern Germany.
The outbreak is one of the largest E. Coli episodes ever recorded worldwide, and health officials are still stymied in their attempts to identify the source of the problem.
The World Health Organization said Monday that many infected by the E. Coli bacteria have developed the more deadly haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The number of HUS cases jumped up by 54 Monday alone, to 661 cases, including 15 deaths, reported the WHO.
One death has been recorded in Sweden, and 10 other European countries have reported cases: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Hungarian—currently holding the rotating head of the Council of the European Union—will convene Tuesday’s special meeting of agricultural ministers from the 27 nations on Tuesday. The ministers will discuss food safety, the market, and compensation for affected farmers. The drop in fruit and vegetable sales across Europe has hit growers hard and the ministers will discuss possible financial compensation.
Initially, German officials pointed to imported Spanish cucumbers as the source of the outbreak, but further investigation exonerated the cucumbers.Even so, Spanish growers felt the effects. The first week after Germany reported the cluster of cases, health officials blamed Spain for the outbreak and Spanish farmers’ export sales dropped 175 million euros ($256 million) and domestic sales dropped 50 million euros ($73 million), according to Spanish produce industry organization Fepex, reported Reuters.
Thorough investigation of the food chain continues as scientists attempt to identify the original source of the bacteria and minimize spread of the bacteria.