In response to a deadly outbreak of a virulent form of E. coli bacteria in cucumbers that has killed already 15 people in Europe, Armenian authorities have halted imports of vegetables from all European countries, Arka news agency reported.
The outbreak has also made more than 1,000 people ill in Germany. The E. coli pathogen has been identified on cucumbers imported from Spain, but it is not clear if they were contaminated there, during transport, or possibly in Germany.
Shushan Ghazarian, a spokeswoman for the State Food Security Service, said Armenia had banned import of cucumbers from Europe a month ago and then have banned import of all vegetables. Other foods from Europe are allowed into Armenia only after a careful examination at border check points, she said.
Babken Liloyan, head of the State Food Security Service’s PR department, said import of vegetables from Turkey was also banned a month ago.
The German government has identified the disease as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of a type of E. coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). The WHO said in a risk assessment that the HUS/STEC outbreak is one the largest in the world of its kind. HUS affects blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the nervous system and can be particularly serious for children and the elderly.