WHO: Time running out to solve E. coli outbreak

By the Associated Press | June 7, 2011 | 7:44 AM EDT

German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner speaks to the media as she arrives for an emergency meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Luxembourg, Tuesday, June 7, 2011. Plans to compensate farmers across Europe for losses triggered by the E.coli outbreak in Germany will be discussed by EU agriculture ministers at emergency talks this afternoon. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

LONDON (AP) — An expert at the World Health Organization says time is running out for German investigators to find the source of the world's deadliest E. coli outbreak.

German officials are still seeking the outbreak's cause weeks after it began. In the last week, they have wrongly accused Spanish cucumbers and then German sprouts of sparking the crisis that has killed 22 people and infected over 2,400.

Dr. Guenael Rodier, an infectious diseases expert at WHO, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that "if we don't know the likely culprit in a week's time, we may never know the cause."

He said the contaminated vegetables have likely disappeared from the market and it would be difficult for German investigators to link patients to contaminated produce weeks after they first became infected.