The World Health Organization (WHO) has said on Thursday that scientists are still unaware of the source of the new bacteria, and preliminary tests have shown that the bacteria is a mutant form of two different types of E. coli, AFP reports.
The new strain is called ST131 which caused many of the E. coli infections resistant to antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin classes, scientists have said.
The killer bacteria epidemic has left over 2,000 sickened across Europe in addition to 18 people who have already died of the disease.
The bacteria can lead to bloody diarrhea and kidney failure. Most of the victims have been young women, but scientists say the bacteria mostly affect young children and older adults.
The WHO also said that the new strain has never been seen in any outbreak before. It has contaminated raw vegetables, prompting several countries to ban imports from northern Europe.
Russia has already banned vegetable imports from Germany and Spain.
The new outbreak of the deadly disease has cast doubt on the current life spot checks at the internal border controls in Europe.
Germany initially claimed the Spanish cucumbers as a possible source, but the tests have refuted the claim.
Madrid has threatened to file a law suit against the German city of Hamburg for making the allegation.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said, “This is crisis that seriously hurts some businesses in different sectors, and turns them to dust. Spanish products are absolutely clean and the proof is that there is no case in Spain of that bacterium.”
The E. coli bacteria are spreading rapidly. Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK have confirmed suspected cases.
American health officials say at least three people in the US are suspected of having fallen ill from the E. coli bacteria after traveling to Germany.