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.
"This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before," Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press. The new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing" than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines.
However, Dr. Robert Tauxe, a foodborne-disease expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, questioned whether the strain is truly new, saying it had previously caused a single case in Korea in the 1990s. He said the genetic fingerprints from the two samples may vary a little, but not enough to say that the strain in Europe is new.