Dr. Manny
Today, I’d like to address the mystery behind the E. coli outbreak that has killed 22 people, sickened more than 2,200, and caused people across Europe to fear buying raw vegetables.My question is, is this outbreak a simply a case of a bad turn by Mother Nature or is there a more sinister explanation for the E. coli attack?After all, E. coli has previously been identified by government officials and scientists as a potential bioterrorism agent.

Bioterrorism is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the intentional use of bacteria, viruses, or natural toxins as a weapon to kill, injure or produce disease in people, animals or plants. Terrorists may use this kind of attack to create fear, disrupt the economy, or to get a response from the government.

Let me clarify that I don’t think there’s a need for alarm just yet, but there are a couple of things that are unique about this particular strain of E. coli, compared to others in the past.

This E. coli strain, 0104:H4, for example, is “super-toxic” and nearly a perfect combination of other bugs, according to an international gene sequencing team.

It appears to have genes that lead to both bloody diarrhea and kidney failure, as well as resistance to 14 kinds of antibiotics instead of just one. It also lacks an adhesin gene, which means the bug may have found a new way to bind itself inside the body.

What I find most curious is the target of this strain – statistics show that an unusually high number of adult women have fallen victim to the bug. Normally, E. coli expresses itself most often among children and elderly people.

Now, there are a number of potential explanations for this outbreak, which biologists say may be the largest and deadliest in all of history. At this point, it’s impossible to pin the cause down on any one theory.

However, I do believe it is important to consider all possibilities, and perhaps view what has happened in Europe as a warning: E. coli is a potentially deadly pathogen that can spread rapidly and widely, whether in the hands of terrorists or Mother Nature. It is vitally important to practice proper techniques in food preparation – including washing the food and/or cooking it at proper temperatures.

As far as I’m concerned, the few extra minutes those measures will take is well worth it to ensure the health and safety of you and your family.