Coli outbreak is over as new evidence points to tainted water

CDC E. coli Outbreak Over Tainted Irrigation Water Appears to be Source

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).

Earlier, officials tied eight illnesses at a jail in Alaska to whole head romaine lettuce grown at Harrison Farms in Yuma.

Although the outbreak was linked to romaine lettuce grown near Yuma, Arizona, the CDC announced on Thursday that the same strain of E. Coli was found in canal water in the same region.

Yuma-sourced romaine is no longer in the marketplace.

CDC says the E. coli outbreak appears to be finished. And worse, 27 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. It is also unclear how the pathogen contaminated the canal water.

Citing the CDC's analysis of water samples that were taken from a canal in the Yuma region, the FDA says the investigation found E. coli in the water "with the same genetic finger print as the outbreak strain". While these tests confirm that the pathogen is present in the environment, it does not identify the initial source of contamination of the romaine lettuce.

"This is a broader contamination event that impacted a lot of farms and ranches, and then went into the supply chain and amplified out", said Bill Marler, a lawyer in Seattle who represents more than 100 people who were sickened. A new cluster was reported the next day. But no other farm, processing center, or distributor was ever identified in this outbreak. "This was still a huge outbreak that affected many people".

The outbreak is over, it said in a news release Thursday.

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

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