Scientists are still probing the deadly E. coli strain in Europe and finding the bacteria combines a highly poisonous but common toxin, with a rarely seen “glue” that binds it to a patient’s intestines.
It may take months for the global team of researchers to fully understand the characteristics of the bacteria that have killed at least 18 people in Europe and sickened thousands. They fear this E. coli strain is the most toxic yet to hit a human population.
Most Escherichia coli or E. coli bacteria are harmless. The strain that is sickening people in Germany and other parts of Europe known as 0104:H4, is part of a class of bacteria known as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STEC.
This class has the ability to stick to intestinal walls where it pumps out toxins causing diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, it causes hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, attacking the kidneys and causing comas, seizures, and strokes.
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