PARIS - Five children admitted to hospital in northern France after eating beefburgers infected with a strain of E.coli bacteria are seriously ill, health officials said on Thursday, fanning fears of a wider outbreak.
The officials said the bacteria did not appear to be related to the lethal strain of E.coli that has killed 37 people and made 3,000 ill, most of them in northern Germany.
Privately owned German discount chain Lidl withdrew boxes of the frozen beefburgers believed to be behind the French infections. The boxes were sold under the brand "Steaks Country" and had expiry dates of May 10, 11 and 12, officials said.
On Wednesday six children, aged between 20 months and eight years and from different towns in the Pas de Calais region, were taken to a hospital in the city of Lille after suffering bouts of bloody diarrhea.