A 40-year-old man who recently returned from Germany is in intensive care in Spain with a possible E.coli infection, a hospital in northern Spain said Tuesday.
The patient was admitted May 20 and then placed in intensive care after his condition deteriorated, said a statement by the Donostia hospital in San Sebastian.
Advertisement"Until we have the necessary results we cannot confirm that this is a food infection by the E.coli bacteria," the hospital said.
Spanish media said the patient had travelled to Germany and Czech Republic shortly before being admitted to the gastro-enterology department of the hospital.
If confirmed it would be the first case in Spain since an outbreak of E.coli bacteria poisoning erupted in Europe two weeks ago, sickening hundreds and reportedly killing 14 in Germany.
Germany said it detected the potentially dangerous bacteria on organic cucumbers imported from two producers in southern Spain's Andalucia region.
But Madrid has rejected any blame.
The Spanish government said there had been no infections in Spain and it argued there was no evidence the infection came from the cucumbers' origin in Spain rather than in later handling elsewhere.
Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli can result in full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes bloody diarrhoea and serious liver damage and which can result in death.
The Andalucian region says suspect cucumber batches from the two distributors in Almeria and Malaga have been withdrawn pending soil, water and produce tests, with results due Wednesday.
Samples from suspect batches were sent to a laboratory in the northwest province of Galicia for testing.
Spain's government has promised to approach the European Union for compensation over the "enormous" damages caused to its fruit and vegetable export industry.
It called on Germany to wrap up investigations into the source of the outbreak quickly.
Spain's fruit and vegetable producer-exporter federation, FEPEX, said the the crisis could provoke losses of millions of euros, with a possible cascade effect on other Spanish agricultural products.
Spain exports nearly 200 million euros in produce a week, it said, and the questions raised over its cucumbers had created alarm among European buyers, leading to paralysed or cancelled orders.
Of Spain 9.4 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables exported in 2010, the biggest share, 24 percent, went to Germany, the federation said. "The economic consequences are already very serious," it said.
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