The outbreak is considered the third-largest involving E. coli in recent world history, and it is already the deadliest. Twelve people died in a 1996 Japanese outbreak that reportedly sickened more than 9,000, and seven died in a Canadian outbreak in 2000.
Kidney specialist Dr. Reinhard Brunkhorst, the president of the German Nephrology Society, told reporters in Hamburg that hospitals are now seeing fewer new infections reported each day, though cautioned that "it may be less, but it's not over yet."
"There is no reason for hysteria, because it's not spreading and it's not increasing - it's decreasing," he said.
Researcher Dag Harmsen at the Muenster University Hospital, which has been closely involved in the investigation of the outbreak, said that scientists were hoping to know enough about the E. coli strain by next week to be able to prevent new infections and better treat patients.