News / Europe

7 Children Infected With E. Coli in France

French health authorities say seven children have been hospitalized with E. coli infections in northern France, five of them after eating defrosted beef burgers.

The officials said Thursday the strain of E. coli that infected the children is not linked to a deadly outbreak of bacteria in Germany that has killed at least 39 people and infected more than 3,300 others in recent weeks.

The seven children, the youngest of them 20 months old, come from towns in France's Pas de Calais region.  They were hospitalized on Wednesday and Thursday with E. coli symptoms such as bloody diarrhea.

French officials say five of the children had eaten frozen ground beef patties sold by German supermarket chain Lidl and produced by French company SEB.  Lidl has removed the "Steak Country" product from all of its stores in France on orders of French health authorities.

SEB says the recall affects about 10 tons of meat that may come from several EU nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

SEB chief executive Guy Lamorlette told the French news agency that the company is awaiting test results to determine if the frozen beef burgers were responsible for the French E. coli cases.  He says the products were checked for safety before being delivered to stores.

German officials say the more dangerous strain of E. coli affecting northern Germany has been traced to sprouts from a local farm.

Germany's disease control center reported a new fatality Thursday from that outbreak raising the European death toll to 39.  All but one of the deaths and most of the infections have been reported in Germany.  A woman in Sweden died of the infection days after visiting Germany.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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