Bad water from canal caused E. coli outbreak, CDC says

Officials are investigating how the outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria got into an irrigation canal

Officials are investigating how the outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria got into an irrigation canal

Tainted irrigation water appears to be the source of a national food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, health officials said Thursday.

An update of illnesses associated with this outbreak is as follows: 210 people were sickened in 36 states; 97 were hospitalized, including 27 who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome; and 5 people died.

The first cases in the outbreak were reported on March 13; one month later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had traced the E. coli to lettuce that was grown in the area around Yuma. The FDA assures consumers that E. coli should no longer be present in romaine lettuce.

Now, officials have identified this particular strain of E. coli, O157:H7, in the water of a canal and are working to understand how the bacteria entered the water and how it could have contaminated the lettuce, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 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.

Experts aren't sure, but contaminated canal water is a strong culprit. Single deaths were reported from Arkansas, California and NY, and two people died in Minnesota. In the latest updates, both released on June 28, the CDC and the FDA say that the outbreak may have been caused by E. coli-infected canal water.

Lettuce being processed in Yuma, Arizona, in 2015.

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.

"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", Gottlieb said.

As of Wednesday, more than 1,500 people who'd had contact with confirmed or probable Ebola patients had been followed for 21 days and had no Ebola symptoms, the World Health Organization said. Only a few can cause diarrhea, severe infections like pneumonia, or death.

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