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Two French children recovering from E.coli bout

LILLE (Reuters) - Two of eight children hospitalized in northern France after being infected with a strain of the E.coli bacteria were well enough Monday to return home, local health authorities said.

The outbreak was unrelated to the strain earlier this month that has killed 40 people, mostly in Germany, the health authorities said.

Six children remained in hospital, including a seriously ill two-year-old who was on a respirator after being placed in an artificially-induced coma last week, a spokesman for the CHRU hospital group in Lille told Reuters.

"The childrens' condition is improving," he said.

The eight children, ranging in age from 18 months to eight years old, were admitted to hospital in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region last week after falling ill with symptoms including bloody diarrhea.

Health authorities said they had been infected with a strain of E.coli after eating frozen hamburgers sold by German discount chain Lidl.

Lidl has since withdrawn the patties from sale.

(Reporting by Pierre Savary; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Michael Roddy)