Moscow: Amid an outbreak of E.coli in the country, which has so far claimed 16 lives in Germany, Russia has banned the import of fresh vegetables from the European Union member states.

"We are imposing a ban due to the fact that during a month's time the situation has not been brought under control," Gennady Onishchenko, head of the federal sanitary watchdog Rospotrebnadzor,announced.

Cucumbers imported from Spain were said to be the cause of the outbreak of highly virulent strain of the E.coli bacteria in northern Germany and the European Commission had admitted at least 16 deaths.

Earlier Russian ban was limited to import of fresh vegetables from Spain and Germany.

"The sources of the infection and transfer factors have not been established. Recently the situation has worsened dramatically so we have to adopt these very unpopular measures", justifying the extension of the ban on whole of the EU, Onishchenko said

According to medical experts virulent strains of E.coli bacteria could lead to stroke and fatal kidney disorders with lethal outcome.

Agencies