From the Voice of America website:
“As European agriculture ministers hold an emergency meeting about the continent’s spiraling E. coli outbreak, Spain is demanding full compensation to its farmers, after Spanish cucumbers were incorrectly identified as the bacteria’s source. But even as scientists still scramble to diagnose the origin, experts say this outbreak’s legacy could be the huge furor over mistaken claims and compensation from the European Union.
A top World Heath Organization official says the source of Germany’s deadly E. coli outbreak may never be known. Dr. Guenael Rodier, WHO’s director of communicable diseases, tells the Associated Press that investigators must find the culprit within a week. He says after that, it would become difficult to link patients with what they ate. Rodier says the contaminated vegetables have probably already disappeared from the market.
First it was cucumbers from Spain, then bean sprouts from Germany that fell under suspicion. But European Union officials acknowledge they still do not know the precise source of an E. coli outbreak that has killed at least 23 people, mostly in Germany.
At first, German officials suggested organic cucumbers from southern Spain were to blame. But that turned out to prove false, and cost Spanish farmers hundreds of millions of euros in lost revenue. Russia and other countries banned vegetable imports from Spain and then the rest of Europe altogether.
Spain’s agriculture minister, Rosa Aguilar, is demanding full compensation from Germany for her country’s farmers.
Aguilar says Germany must reimburse Spain for its losses. She says that if Germany covers 100 percent, which is what Spain is demanding, then the matter will be closed. But otherwise, she says Spain reserves the right to take legal action.
Experts say the issue of compensating farmers is difficult, however, before the exact source of contamination is known. David Heymann is a global health security expert and professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He says scientists are limited to testing the current vegetable supply – not the exact food that began sickening people two weeks ago. ….”
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