Published: Mon, July 02, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Romaine lettuce outbreak tied to tainted water in irrigation canal

Romaine lettuce outbreak tied to tainted water in irrigation canal

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.

They previously connected the illnesses with romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, which supplies most of the romaine sold in the USA during the winter, the Associated Press reported.

According to the FDA the last shipments of lettuce for the season shipped in April and the shelf-life has since expired therefore the contaminated lettuce is no longer available. Representatives of Harrison Farms could not be reached for comment Saturday.

On Thursday, the CDC said that indeed, samples taken from canal water that irrigated the Yuma growing fields were laced with the same deadly bacteria.

Three months ago a nationwide warning was issued to avoid eating romaine lettuce because a lot of it had been contaminated with e-coli bacteria.

The location of the canal has not been released, and the source of its contamination has not yet been determined.

Of the five people who died, two lived in Minnesota, and the others were from Arkansas, California and NY, according to the CDC. Investigations have been ongoing on the E. coli flare-up that spread to 36 states across the country.

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. It's the worst outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 since a 2006 outbreak linked to spinach. The most recent contamination was more widespread.

Foodborne illness reportedly affects nearly 50 million people every year, equal to roughly one in six Americans. Ninety-six people were hospitalized, 27 developed kidney failure, and five died.

Lopez said potential solutions include finding a different water source for the crops or treating the water with chemicals to ensure it is bacteria free.

The organization is waiting for more information from the FDA, including how the bacteria got there in the first place and the specific farms that were affected.

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