News & AnalysisInfectious Diseases

As E. coli Outbreak Recedes, New Questions Come to the Fore

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Science  01 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6038, pp. 27
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6038.27

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Germans are breathing a sigh of relief now that the deadliest outbreak of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli ever recorded appears to be winding down. More than 3900 people have been infected so far and at least 46 have died, but the number of severe cases reported daily has dwindled from more than 60 to a handful. For researchers, however, the work is just beginning. They are starting new studies and sifting through data gathered so far to figure out how to prevent a repeat and increase the odds of survival for future patients. Indeed, some scientists say the outbreak may have given them study material for years.

  • * Kai Kupferschmidt is a writer in Berlin.