A deadly “mystery strain” of e-coli has already killed 18 people overseas. Now, health officials in the United States say that three Americans may be infected with the same bacteria. AFP reports that these individuals recently traveled to Germany, where the infection has been running rampant:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was awaiting blood samples before any confirmation could be made, spokesman Tom Skinner told AFP. The suspected cases were not fatal.
Earlier, Britain said seven people there had been infected with the bacteria, including three British nationals who had recently traveled to Germany and four German nationals.
Germany does not know where the bacteria originated, though the government has discouraged citizens from consuming raw vegetables. In the past month, alone, 2,000 people have fallen ill.
Treating e-coli is tricky, as studies have shown that antibiotics often cause more complications and, thus, harm infected patients. As a result, doctors in the U.S. and Europe do not use medications to treat the bacteria. CNN has more:
“It seems that antibiotics make the bacteria explode, and the toxins inside get spit out and wreak havoc,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
There’s no other treatment to fight the bacteria.
“All we can do is give patients pain medications or put them on ventilators or dialysis if they need it,” said Dr. Robert Steele, a pediatrician at St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. “We can’t treat the actual problem. We just wait for the body to heal itself.”
Watch a video report from Reuters that explains why the e-coli outbreak has caused Russia to ban vegetables from the EU: