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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Germany : Scientists seek answers from origins of 'chimeric' E. coli

Via DW World :

" Scientists are examining the results of a genetic sequencing of the new E. coli strain. This new variety, which has sickened thousands in Europe, seems to be a product of two previously known infectious types of E. coli.

As of Friday, while German scientists struggled to isolate the source of the E. coli outbreak, epidemiologists and microbiologists remain unsure as to how they can uncover the secrets of this new infectious strain - and ultimately, battle it.

Earlier in the week, a team of German and Chinese scientists said that they had sequenced the genome of the bacteria, finding that it contained elements from two other previously known strains, O104:H4 and EAEC 55989.

O104:H4, which is a rare, enterohemmorhagic - or bloody diarrhea-inducing - strain, has only been documented in scientific literature once before. In 2005, a 29-year-old woman was admitted to a Korean hospital and was treated for the infection and later recovered.

This E. coli represents a new serotype, or sub-species variant for this kind of bacteria. It also has a "shiga toxin," which targets kidney cells and has the ability to enter the blood stream.

The Beijing Genomics Institute team also said on Thursday that the new bacteria has "93 percent sequence similarity" with EAEC 55989, another type of E. coli that is known to have an advanced ability to "colonize" the human stomach - that is, to latch on and reproduce quickly."

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