An expert at the World Health Organization says time is running out for German investigators to find the source of the world’s deadliest E. coli outbreak, which has spread fear across Europe and cost farmers millions in exports. The country’s crisis management came under fire at home and among EU officials, who met to discuss aid for farmers suffering from a drastic loss in produce sales.
German doctors continue struggling to treat victims of the E. coli outbreak, with the national hospital association calling for extra funding to fight the epidemic. The outbreak has killed 24 people, infected over 2,400 and left hundreds hospitalized with a serious complication that can lead to kidney failure.
“If we don’t know the likely culprit in a week’s time, we may never know the cause,” Dr. Guenael Rodier, the director of communicable diseases at WHO, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
Michael Osterholm , director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, whose team has contained numerous food-borne outbreaks in the United States, described the German effort as “erratic” and “a disaster” and said officials should have done more detailed patient interviews as soon as the epidemic began.” If you gave us 200 cases and 5 days, we should be able to solve this outbreak,”
German officials are still seeking the cause of the outbreak weeks after it began May 2. They wrongly accused Spanish cucumbers of being the culprit last week but had to retract when the cucumbers had a different strain of E. coli. On Sunday, they blamed German sprouts, only to backtrack a day later when initial tests were negative. The sprouts are still being tested.