European E. Coli Cases Continue to Rise

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The number of people reported sick from Europe's deadly E. coli outbreak is still rising.

Another person died Wednesday from the E. coli infection, raising the death toll since the start of May to 26, including 25 people in Germany and one in Sweden.

The number of new cases has risen by more than 300, raising the total to 2,648. Nearly 700 of those victims have been hospitalized with a serious complication that can cause kidney failure. Another 100 E. coli cases are in other European countries and the United States.

Despite these numbers, German officials say there is hope the epidemic is actually declining since there is often a lag in reporting time when the initial outbreak strikes.

EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner John Dalli held an emergency meeting with German officials about the progress of containing the E. coli outbreak on Wednesday.

After the meeting, Dalli said the cucumber warning was "justified" based on the data Hamburg authorities had at the time. He urged European countries to "work together, cooperate and share expertise to address this outbreak and bring it to an end as soon as possible."

"This is not the time for criticism and recriminations, but the time to focus our efforts at all levels in order to get to grips on this crisis," he said.

Consumers across Europe are shunning fruit and vegetables, and the German warning against eating cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts is still in place. EU farmers are claiming losses up to euro417 million a week as ripe produce rots in fields and warehouses.

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