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Health experts around the globe are keeping a close eye on the deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe—including here in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely following the large outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O104, or STEC O104, infections which are centered in Germany.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control and prevention agency, said Wednesday that 470 people are now suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome, or kidney failure, a life-threatening complication of E. coli infections. That’s up from 373 cases reported Tuesday.

As far as U.S. citizens who have traveled to Europe, the CDC said two cases of HUS have been reported “in persons with recent travel to Hamburg, Germany.” However, the agency said they are still awaiting lab results to confirm if these cases are directly related to STEC O104. CDC officials said this deadly strain of E. coli spreading across Europe is very rare – and they are not aware of any cases of STEC O104:H4 infection ever being reported in the United States.

he exact source is still not known, but scientists said the suspicions about vegetables or salads being a possible source are well-founded since cattle manure used in fertilizer can harbor E. coli.

“E. coli can attach to the surface of many fresh produce, such as lettuce leaves, spinach leaves and cucumber. These type of E.coli survive harsher environmental conditions than…and produce some nasty toxins to humans,” said Brendan Wren of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

For more visit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention