The outbreak of a virulent strain of E. coli has killed 19 people in Europe and infected more than 2,000 in at least 12 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday, CNN informs. All but one of the fatalities were reported in Germany, where officials say it’s still too early to determine whether the peak of the outbreak has passed. One person in Sweden also died. In Germany, there have been 573 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) — a form of kidney failure — in the current European outbreak, according to WHO. That’s more cases of HUS than in any other recorded outbreak, worldwide. Twelve patients in Germany have died of HUS, according to WHO, while six died of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, EHEC, a strain that causes hemorrhaging in the intestines and can result in abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. Reports indicate that an estimated 1,428 people have that E. coli strain so far but do not have HUS, according to the World Health Organization. Infections have also been identified in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, according to the organization.
Health authorities are investigating the possibility that the killer bacteria may have spread from a restaurant in Luebeck, near Hamburg, where some of the sickened people dined last month, deccanchronicle.com informs. Specialists of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s national disease prevention and control centre and the Federal Institute for Risk Evaluation searched the restaurant on Saturday and they are now investigating its supply chains to look for clues on how the deadly bacteria came into circulation.