Farmer Hermann Voges takes a bite of lettuce on June 7, 2011, from one of his fields in Ronnenberg, part of Germany's Lower Saxony region. Since the start of the E. coli crisis, Voges and other farmers have disposed of thousands of pounds of produce. The outbreak of an especially toxic strain of E. coli has killed at least 23 people. At first, German officials blamed cucumbers — specifically, Spanish cucumbers. Within days, though, investigators had ruled out the vegetable and started looking closer to home for the cause. The most recent suspect? Bean sprouts. (Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/ZUMA Press)

Farmer Hermann Voges takes a bite of lettuce on one of his fields in Ronnenberg, Germany,

e. coli sample

Scientists are looking for a common denominator in the outbreak, which includes 2,200 cases in 12 countries. Here, samples are tested for bacteria at the lab of the state office for agriculture and food safety of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Rostock, Germany.

But for many of the victims, it's a different kind of race. More than 660 victims have developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome, in which the bacteria attacks the kidneys and nervous system, gives its victims fits and often forces them onto dialysis. (Photo: Bernd Wuestneck/ZUMA Press)

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