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The World Health Organization says the E. coli outbreak in Germany is a completely new strain of the bacteria.
The infection can cause the deadly complication - haemolytic-uraemic syndrome - affecting the blood and kidneys.
More than 1,500 people have been infected and 17 have died: 16 in Germany and one in Sweden.
A German researcher found that the strain’s DNA contains small sequences from other E. coli strains and from plague bacteria, which may help explain its ferocity—though there’s no way, he emphasizes, that these bacteria could cause any form of plague.