Markham Erickson, Open Internet Coalition
The World Health Organization is warning that a new strain of the E. Coli bacteria is responsible for sickening more than 1,500 people and killing at least 18. The outbreak appears to be centered primarily in Germany, where some of those who have fallen ill visited, but the original source of the bacteria has not been confirmed. Two people who traveled from Germany to the United States are also ill.
According to the Associated Press:
Preliminary genetic sequencing suggests the strain is a mutant form of two different E. coli bacteria, with aggressive genes that could explain why the Europe-wide outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous, the agency said.
Russia has moved to ban produce imports from the European Union. Early in the outbreak, there were reports that Spanish cucumbers could be to blame, although that has not been confirmed. Experts have advised those in Germany to avoid cucumber, lettuce or tomatoes until the source is identified.
The spread of the disease is likely to slow if the original contaminant is contained, but experts warn of secondary spread if those who are ill don’t take precautions like handwashing.