Outbreak in Europe blamed on 'super-toxic' strain
Scientists on Thursday blamed Europe's worst recorded food-poisoning outbreak on a "super-toxic" strain of E. coli bacteria that may be brand new.
But while suspicion has fallen on raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce as the source of the germ, researchers have been unable to pinpoint the food responsible for the frightening illness, which has killed at least 18 people, sickened more than 1,600 and spread to least 10 European countries.
An alarmingly large number of victims — about 500 — have developed kidney complications that can be deadly.
Chinese and German scientists analyzed the DNA of the E. coli bacteria and determined that the outbreak was caused by "an entirely new, super-toxic" strain that contains several antibiotic-resistant genes, according to a statement from the Shenzhen, China-based laboratory BGI. It said the strain appeared to be a combination of two types of E. coli.
Killer germ very antibiotic resistant: German researchers
A German hospital treating patients felled by a mysterious killer bacteria said Thursday that it appears to be particularly resistant to antibiotics after its researchers sequenced the strain's genome.
"The data culled will make it possible in future to develop better molecular tools for a precise diagnosis of the strain behind the outbreak.
"In addition, it can now be researched how this new type of E. coli strain developed, why the strain can spread at great speed and why the illness it unleashes is so serious."
WHO: E.coli outbreak caused by new strain
Preliminary genetic sequencing suggests the strain is a never before seen combination of two different E. coli bacteria, with aggressive genes that could explain why the outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous, the agency said.
Researchers have so far been unable to pinpoint the food source of the illness, which has now spread to at least 10 European countries and fanned uncertainty about eating tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
Nearly all the sick people either live in Germany or recently traveled there. British officials announced four new cases, including three Britons who recently visited Germany and a German person on holiday in England.
But Hunter warned the outbreak could continue if there is secondary transmission of the disease, which often happens when children are infected. The disease can be spread when infected people don't take proper hygiene measures, like bathing or hand washing.
UK confirms E. coli cases linked to German outbreak
Seven people in Britain have been infected with the E. coli bacteria which has killed 17 people in Europe, with all cases linked to Germany, health authorities said Thursday.
Three of those infected were British nationals who had recently travelled to Germany and four were German nationals, the Health Protection Agency said in a statement.
Of those cases three were full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) -- a disease that causes can serious liver damage -- and the other four suffered bloody bloody diarrhoea, it said.
We'll be watching this story evolve closely.
As Jesus warned us - there will be noteworthy pestilences in this era. Indeed.