On Thursday, officials said the outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria was found in an irrigation canal in the Yuma area.
Although 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.
The diseases in 36 states were earlier found to romaine lettuce made in Yuma, Arizona, which gives a large portion of the romaine sold in the US amid the winter. Two hundred ten people were sickened in this outbreak.
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The outbreak, which began early this spring, caused a total of 210 infections in 36 states, resulting in five deaths and 96 hospitalizations.
Questions remain about how the bacteria ended up in the canal.
Ninety-six of those folks were sick enough to be hospitalized; 27 of those developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. 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. Prior to this year, the largest outbreak was in 2006. It's believed that cattle contaminated a nearby stream, and wild pigs spread the contamination to fields, the AP reported.
Consumer Reports' food safety director Dr. James E. Rogers told The Daily Meal, "The industry is aware this is a huge issue and that they need to do something about it". The highest number of reported illnesses was in March and April of this year, but some are still trickling in, with one even reported in June. Suspected cases continue to appear, but there have not been any laboratory-confirmed cases since June 6.
(PHAC) identified eight ill people in several Canadian provinces infected with the same DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7.