Hospitals also put on E.coli alert

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Norwegian hospitals were asked by state authorities on Tuesday to immediately report any suspicions of E.coli infections, after a man in Kristiansand was admitted to the southern coastal area’s main hospital and tested positive to the dangerous bacteria.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) also reported that a small amount of cucumbers imported from Spain were found in Trøndelag. The Spanish cucumbers, along with cucumbers from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, are among produce suspected of being a source of an E.coli outbreak in Europe that has left hundreds sick and more than a dozen dead.

‘No cause for alarm’
The Norwegian food safety authority Mattilsynet still doesn’t believe there’s any cause for alarm in Norway, where many imports of fruit and vegetables are restricted at this time of year to support Norwegian farmers. On Monday, authorities noted that there were hardly any imported cucumbers on the market in Norway at present.

They later tracked down a shipment of 240 cucumbers from a grower in Spain that had been sent to a wholesaler that distributes organic vegetables in the central and northern counties of Trøndelag and Nordland. The importer was contacting customers but there were no reports of any falling ill.

The bacteria behind the current E.coli outbreak is labeled 0104, said to be relatively rare and different from E.coli outbreaks in Norway in 2006 and 2009. Norwegian authorities stressed that the source of the bacteria still hadn’t been verified as of Tuesday.

German ‘association’
The man who fell ill in Kristiansand is believed to have “an association” with Germany, according to health and food safety authorities, and therefore may not have been infected in Norway.

“We have actually expected some cases in Norway, since infection has been registered in both Sweden and Denmark,” Line Vold of the public health institute Folkehelseinstituttet told newspaper Aftenposten. She also noted that most of those ill in Europe have been in Germany, where cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes are viewed as possible sources.

The most common sign of E.coli infection is bloody diarrhea, and health authorities urged those with such symptoms to contact their doctors immediately. Otherwise, they are issuing no warnings against purchase of produce in Norway but advised against consumption of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers if traveling in Germany.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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