LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization says the E. coli strain responsible for the deadly outbreak in Europe is a new bacteria that has never been seen before.
The agency says Thursday that preliminary genetic sequencing suggests the strain is a mutant form of two different E. coli bacterium, with lethal genes that could explain why the Europe-wide outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous.
Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, said "this is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before." She added that the new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing."
So far, the mutant E. coli strain has killed 17 people in Germany, and sickened more than 1,500 others, including 470 who have developed a rare kidney failure complication.