Coli in Deadly Romaine Lettuce Outbreak Finally Found

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

According to an outbreak update from from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Thursday, romaine lettuce contaminated with a particularly virulent strain of E. coli O157:H7 sickened 210 people in 36 states between March 13 and June 6.

Five people died in the outbreak and more than 200 others became sick after eating romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. The Yuma region - which includes farms across the Colorado River in southeastern California - grows the overwhelming majority of the lettuce and other leafy greens consumed in the United States in the winter months.

Further investigation discovered the outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria in an irrigation canal in the Yuma area, officials said Thursday. The outbreak "appears to be over", the CDC says, and may have been caused by canal water contaminated with food poisoning bacteria.

"More work needs to be done to determine just how and why this strain of E. coli O157:H7 could have gotten into this body of water and how that led to contamination of romaine lettuce from multiple farms", said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a statement.

Officials tied that 2006 outbreak to a contaminated stream. Single deaths were reported from Arkansas, California and NY, and two people died in Minnesota.

In this latest outbreak, the vaccine was given to more than 3,200 people, including front-line health care workers, and family members and friends who had contact with known Ebola victims.

In 2006, almost 200 people were sickened by tainted spinach in 26 states; a single California produce company was at the center of that outbreak.

The last of the Yuma lettuce was harvested on April 16, the CDC says. Fox 8 reports that they also said they won't reveal the location of the canal that has been identified until they have finished composing a report on the matter.

A mother who refused to accept doctors' opinions that her daughter was brain dead said the teen died on June 22 after surgery in New Jersey.

Foodborne illness reportedly affects nearly 50 million people every year, equal to roughly one in six Americans. Many of those hospitalized developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the CDC.

Water turned out to be the culprit behind the wave of E. coli illness in spring.

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