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Bacterial outbreak in Germany shows signs of slowing

BERLIN — The number of people sickened by a mysterious strain of E. coli in Europe is still rising more than a month after it was first detected, but officials say there are now signs the bacterial outbreak responsible for at least 18 deaths could be slowing.

The first case of a patient in Germany detected with the bacteria was reported on May 1. The country's national disease control center reported Friday that there are now 1,733 people in the country who have been sickened.

The World Health Organization said 10 other European nations and the United States have reported a total of 90 people sick from the bacteria, all but two of whom had recently visited northern Germany or, in one case, had contact with a visitor from the region.

Though nearly 200 new cases of E. coli infection were reported in Germany in the first two days of June, the Robert Koch Institute, the German institution responsible for disease control, said new infections peaked on May 21 and 22 and have been dropping since then.

Suspicion has fallen on raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce as the sources of the germ, but researchers have been unable to pinpoint the food responsible.

Bacterial outbreak in Germany shows signs of slowing 06/03/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 11:24pm]
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