E. Coli Outbreak In Europe; 2,200 People Ill

Bean sprouts; image by Yosri Taugeh
Image: Yosri Taugeh

There has been a serious outbreak of E. coli (pronounced: ee-co-lie) in Europe. At least 2,200 people have gotten sick or shown symptoms and 22 people in Germany have died.

E. coli is short for Escherichia coli. It is a type of bacteria normally found in the body. Most kinds (or “strains”) of E. coli are harmless. The strains included in the outbreak, however, are a harmful kind, causing food poisoning. Food poisoning from E. coli usually happens when people eat unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat.

Scientists throughout Europe are trying to figure out where the E. coli is coming from. At first they thought it was coming from some Spanish vegetables including lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. People throughout Europe destroyed Spanish cucumbers. Everyone stopped buying and eating the vegetables.

However, the scientists got new evidence and now they think the E. coli may have come from bean sprouts grown in Germany. They are still not certain the bean sprouts are the culprit and they are continuing to try to figure out what has caused so many people to become ill.

The German government is facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits from German farmers, who are losing money because people are no longer buying their bean sprouts, and also from Spanish farmers who lost money when their vegetables were falsely blamed.

Scientists have learned that many of the people who are sick visited the city of Hamburg in Germany. They think that city may be the centre of the outbreak and they have even identified a farm near the city, which they have shut down for testing.

Hospitals in Germany are filling up as more cases of food poisoning appear. Experts think the number of those who are sick, currently at about 2,200, could double before the exact cause is known. They expect to have test results from the farm back on Monday.


Writing/Discussion Prompt
When we go to the grocery store, we buy products from all over the world, including China, California, Spain and Mexico.  This was not always the case.  In fact, having access to products from around the world is quite recent.  As a result, we have become separated from how our food is made, what is in it, and where it comes from. Do you think it is important to know this information?  If so, what can we do (as shoppers) to make sure that we are buying food that is safe to eat?

Reading Prompt
This article contains a lot of information.  Retell this information to a friend or parent in the correct order.  Make sure you include the most important details in your retell.

Demonstrate understanding of a text by retelling the story or restating information from the text, with the inclusion of a few interesting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Grammar Feature: Adverb
An adverb (word that describes a verb, or action word) can often be created by adding ly to an adjective (word that describes a noun, or a person/place/thing).

For example, the adjective “soft” can be changed into the adverb “softly” by adding ly.

In the article there are several adverbs. Find each one, then write down the original adjective that was changed.