THE death toll from killer cucumbers has risen to at least 15 - as the number of people being treated in hospital continues to rise.
Officials have banned the infected vegetables as hundreds across Europe fell sick from E.coli, with northwestern Germany the hardest-hit region.
Experts say it is the biggest ever outbreak of its kind.
Cases of haemolytic-uremic syndrome - otherwise known as HUS - have been reported in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
In Germany the national disease control centre said 373 people were sick with the most serious form of the outbreak - up from 329 on Monday.
Investigations are on-going to discover the possible sources of contamination.
At first it was reported that the tainted vegetables could be traced from Spain, which was angrily rejected by the Spanish government.
But German authorities said today they were unsure whether Spanish cucumbers caused the massive outbreak after tests confirmed the presence of a potentially deadly infection - but it was not the same strain that had struck down hundreds of people.
Officials are convinced that raw vegetables are responsible for the killer strain of E.coli.
Hospital officials in Boras, Sweden, announced the death of a woman in her 50s today who was admitted on May 29 after a trip to Germany.
While officials have warned the death toll is expected to worsen in the coming days as the virus spreads across Europe, Spain's agriculture minister Rosa Aguilar defended her country's fresh produce and said it was still unclear where and when the vegetables had been contaminated.
She even tucked into some of the salad vegetable to show they could not be blamed for the outbreak.
Tucks in ... Spanish agriculture minister Rosa Aguilar proves they are safe
Susanne Glasmacher, a spokeswoman for the Robert Koch Institute, said another 796 people have been affected by the outbreak, making a total of more than 1,150 people infected.
Hundreds of people have also been sickened in other European countries, but until today, Germany had seen the only deaths.
Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is still warning consumers to avoid all cucumbers, lettuces and raw tomatoes as the outbreak is investigated.
In the meantime, Russia's chief sanitary agency has banned the imports of cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh salad from Spain and Germany until further notice.
Source – THE SUN ,by LAURA CAROE..31st may.