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Biologists Figure Out Why The E. Coli Outbreak In Germany In 2011 Was So Deadly

July 26, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. epidemiologists have determined that the E. coli outbreak that occurred in Germany in 2011 – the deadliest ever recorded, causing 54 deaths and 3,800 illnesses – was caused by a particular strain of the bacteria.  Although the researchers weren’t able to determine how the strain – E. coli O104:H4 – causes disease, they did find that the strain’s biofilm, a group of bacteria that collects on a cell, is the reason the strain was so deadly. When the bacteria forms a biofilm, it generates toxic genes, like the Shiga toxin that was the main reason for kidney damage and deaths in Germany.
Rim Al Safadi et al., "Correlation between In Vivo Biofilm Formation and Virulence Gene Expression in Escherichia coli O104:H4", PLoS ONE, July 26, 2012, © Safadi et al.
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