Like an aftershock following a big earthquake, an outbreak of E. coli is causing apprehension in France, but is said to be unrelated to the larger outbreak of O104:H4 centered in northern Germany.

The outbreak in France has been linked to what the French called “beef burgers.” 

The Lidl supermarket chain was ordered to recall about 10 tons of boxed beef patties.  They are blamed for exposing at least seven children to an unnamed E coli strain, but not the O104 strain linked to sprouts in Germany.

beefburgerfrance-iphone.jpgThe beef originate in Belgium, Holland and Germany, but was processed in France by the SEB company, which in turn distributed the boxed Steak Country beef patties to supermarkets.

French health officials were assisted in solving the smaller outbreak by the quick action one family took in bringing in a box of their remaining beef burgers. Leftover food samples often provide the best “smoking guns” in foodborne illness investigations.

The European Union (EU) normally experiences about 3,500 cases of E. coli infection a year, with fewer than 100 of those in France.

All seven ill children are from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area.  They range in age from 18 months to 8 years.  All seven are being treated for the kidney disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One child was said to be in a coma and three had been treated with hemodialysis.