The E.coli outbreak in Europe is caused by a new, highly infectious and toxic strain of the bacteria that contains genes that protect the organism from certain classes of antibiotics.
Scientists in Germany and China have been cooperating to uncover the secrets of the new E.coli germ.
Holger Rohde is a bacteriologist working at Hamburg’s University Hospital: “We were able to determine that this is a new strain, a version of pathogen not seen before. In future, we will be able to determine various conclusions.”
Authorities are now in a race against time to find the source of the outbreak, which is believed to be contained in raw vegetables. Symptoms of E.coli infection include bloody diarrhoea and kidney complications.
Reinhard Burger is the president of the Robert Koch Research Institute: “We’re back to where we were last week where the source was limited to these three types of food, but to precisely which delivery stream, which origin, which processing method, which packaging that could be responsible for the contamination – there is at the moment no information.”
The outbreak has left at least 17 dead with as many as 1,500 sick in eight European countries.
Health experts recommend strict hygiene measures such as hand washing and thorough cleaning and cooking of food.