ATLANTA – The death of an Arizona man who recently visited Germany may be linked to the food-poisoning outbreak in Europe, health officials said Thursday.
The man, who died in mid-June, developed a serious E. coli complication that can lead to kidney failure. But officials don't know yet if he was sickened by the same bacteria strain that has hit thousands in Europe, mostly in Germany.
If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. death and sixth case tied to the outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials said the man was over 65 and lived in northern Arizona, but released few other details. His recent trip to Germany — coupled with the kidney complication — sparked suspicion the case was linked to the European illnesses, said Catherine Foley, an epidemiologist with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
So far, there have been five confirmed cases in the United States — two in Michigan and one in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and North Carolina. All but one had recently been to Germany. One Michigan case apparently caught the illness from the other, a relative.
Arizona officials are not aware of anyone being infected from close contact with the deceased man, Foley said.
Officials have traced the outbreak to raw vegetable sprouts from a farm in northern Germany.
Nearly 3,700 have been reported ill in Germany, including more than 800 with the kidney complication. There have been 42 deaths reported in Germany and one in Sweden.
No confirmed cases have been seen in U.S. military personnel or their dependents that are stationed in Germany, CDC officials said. Nor have there been an increase in visits due to gastrointestinal illness at U.S. military medical facilities in Europe.