Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak tied to tainted irrigation canal

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

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

The agency received confirmation of the final harvest of romaine from the Yuma region on May 2, and the vegetable has a 21-day shelf life.

Alarm over the outbreak was relaxed somewhat in late May, after regulators confirmed that the harvesting season for romaine in Yuma had passed, and that the main US source for romaine had shifted to California's Salinas Valley. Ninety-six people required hospitalization and 5 people died-Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and NY.

As of Tuesday, there were 53 confirmed or probable cases of Ebola and 29 people had died.

During the E. coli outbreak, five people died and 210 got sick in 36 states.

Below it the Yuma growing region which straddles the Colorado River and the California and Arizona border and Gila River. We have also identified additional strains of shiga-toxin producing E. coli in collected samples, but initial testing of these isolates indicates they are different than the outbreak strain. But what's important here is that Yuma County says it grows 90% of all leafy greens America eats between the months of November and March. Contaminated lettuce that made people sick in this outbreak should no longer be available. After much investigation the source of the contamination has been found. It was across multiple supply chains.

They are still investigating how the bacteria got into the canal. That led to suspicions that the outbreak might be from a common water source. And that appears to come down to the water.

"To date, CDC analysis of samples taken from canal water in the region has identified the presence of E. coli. with the same genetic fingerprint as the outbreak strain", the FDA said.

FDA's latest update can be found here.

Some who became ill did not eat the lettuce but had close contact with someone who did, the CDC said. But, both organizations said in their May 16 updates that the tainted romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, region should've been out of circulation. The CDC reminds everyone to always use safe handling practices with any fruit or vegetable.