Deadly E.Coli Outbreak Traced to Contaminated Water

Source of E. Coli in Deadly Romaine Lettuce Outbreak Finally Found

Investigators determined that the E. coli came from contaminated romaine lettuce grown in Arizona's Yuma region near the border with Southern California, the Food and Drug Administration has not been able to link the outbreak to one farm, processor or distributor. Officials also found "additional strains of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli in water and soil samples, but at the time, the samples from the canal water are the only matches to the outbreak strain", according to the outbreak report. It is unknown how the bacteria entered the water supply and contaminated the lettuce.

The latest E. coli outbreak that spanned 36 states and lasted throughout the spring was the largest in over 10 years. Following this announcement the FDA advised consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region.

The controversial case received national attention, the AP reported. Prior to this year, the largest outbreak was in 2006. There are cases in 36 states: Alabama (3) Alaska (8), Arkansas (1), Arizona (9), California (49), Colorado (3), CT (2), Florida (3), Georgia (5), Idaho (12), IL (2), Iowa (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), MA (4), MI (5), Minnesota (12), MS (1), Missouri (1), Montana (9), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (8), NY (11), North Carolina (1), North Dakota (3), OH (7), Oklahoma (1), OR (1), Pennsylvania (24), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (4), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (8), and Wisconsin (3).

Five people have died because of the outbreak and 96 were sent to hospitals, the FDA says in its latest update. Multiple farms tapped into that canal to water their fields.

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Prior, authorities linked eight diseases at a prison in Alaska to entire head romaine lettuce made at Harrison Farms in Yuma. Many of those hospitalized developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the CDC.

The FDA, the CDC, and Arizona state officials continue to analyze samples from the Yuma region collected in early June and initial results are starting to become available.

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