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New E.coli strain discovered to cause outbreak

06-03-2011 08:41 BJT Special Report:EU Struggles with E. Coli Outbreak |

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A highly infectious new strain of E.coli bacteria is causing a deadly outbreak of food poisoning in Germany and other countries. Experts from the World Health Organization, Germany and China revealed their findings Thursday. Hundreds of cases of E.coli infections in Europe and the United States have raised the alarm levels worldwide.

Experts in China, part of a global network of laboratories, have been racing to understand the sickness which has killed 18 people so far.

They say they have found the bug carried genes that made it resistant to several types of antibiotics.

The Chinese scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute say this new E.coli hybrid strain of bacteria is highly infectious and toxic. It is closely related to another E.coli strain, which has previously been found in Africa and is known to cause serious diarrhea.

The World Health Organization says the hybrid strain has never been seen in an outbreak situation before. It also contains the Shiga-like toxin from Enterohaemorrhagic E.coli. This toxin binds to and damages kidney cells and can lead to potentially fatal Haemolytic uraemic syndrome.

The precise source of the outbreak is unknown, but scientists say studies so far suggest it is likely to be contaminated vegetables or salad in Germany.

E.coli infections can spread from person to person but only by what is known as the faecal-oral route.

Health experts in Germany are advising strict hygiene regimes and recommending that consumers avoid eating raw salads and vegetables.

The outbreak is causing severe infections, mostly in female adults. And in a number of cases, serious complications affecting the blood and kidneys.

In addition to cases in Germany, the WHO said it has been notified of cases in Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. EU officials have said three cases have also been reported in the United States.

Almost all the cases are in people who had recently visited Germany.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: CNTV.CN

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