Russia expanded its ban on vegetable imports Thursday to all European countries in an effort to prevent the spread of the bacterial outbreak plaguing Europe.
Lyubov Voropayeva, spokeswoman for the Russian Agency for the Supervision of Consumer Rights, said the ban would remain in place until European officials revealed the cause of the disease and how it's being spread.
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"How many more lives of European citizens does it take for European officials to tackle this problem?" Voropayeva told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.
The deadly E. coli outbreak, which has killed 18 people and sickened 1,500 others, appears to have started in Germany. German health officials have not been able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, though they suspect it may have started in cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes.
The World Health Organization said the bacteria is a new strain of E. coli that's never been seen before.
WHO food safety expert Hilde Kruse told the Associated Press that the new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing" than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines.
Officials say the latest outbreak is the third largest in the recent past, with cases reported in nine European countries.