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A fierce outbreak of a rare strain of E. coli that has killed at least 22 people and left more than 600 people in intensive care is confounding investigators, who turned their focus to sprouts over the weekend but failed to confirm that as the source of the outbreak.

On June 5, German agriculture authorities identified sprouts grown on a farm in the county’s Uelzen area as the most likely source of the outbreak, according to a report posted on The New York Times web site. However, by Monday 23 of 40 samples tested showed no trace of the toxic bacteria. Results from the remaining 17 samples are expected within 24 hours.

Cucumbers from Spain were initially fingered as the source of the outbreak, and Spanish growers watched helplessly as they lost millions of dollars while the market plummeted and product was left in the field to rot.