Swedish health authorities said Tuesday they had detected a case of infection with the E. coli strain that caused a deadly outbreak in Germany, in a man who had not been to that country.
It is the first time that a case has turned up in Sweden in a person with no direct link to Germany, doctor Karin Tegmark Wisell of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control told AFP.
The patient, a middle-aged man from the south of Sweden, "has not been to Germany and there is no obvious link to Germany. He's not been abroad at all and he has not been close to anyone who has been to Germany or has been sick related to the German cases," Tegmark Wisell said.
"We've had several cases (of the same type of bacteria as in the German outbreak) in Sweden, but all of these cases have been visitors in Germany or closely related family members. This is the first case where we see no obvious link to the German cases," she added.
In a statement, the institute said "an EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic E. coli) case of the same specific type as the outbreak in Germany has been identified in Sweden."
It added an investigation was under way to find the source of contamination and that it was "still unclear if the contamination comes from food in Sweden or if there is some other connection to the German outbreak."
The man became ill with bloody diarrhea in mid-June but was feeling better, it added.
The institute's general director Johan Carlson told Swedish news agency TT that the current situation was "clearly more worrying than previously because more people risk being contaminated with the aggressive type" of the bacteria.
Minister for Health and Social Affairs Goeran Haegglund told TT Swedish health services were prepared.
"What happened previously in Germany and France has made Swedish health services more prepared than we otherwise would have been," he said.
An outbreak of killer E. coli blamed on organic vegetable sprouts grown in northern Germany, has killed 48 people, German health authorities said.
All the fatalities were in Germany, except for a woman in Sweden who died after being infected in Germany.
The Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control repeated a consumer advice not to eat raw vegetables sprouts.