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California May Be The Source Of Latest E. Coli Outbreak

For the second time in less than a year, romaine lettuce has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli. Due to the fact that most of the romaine lettuce available on store shelves comes from California during this time of the year, investigators believe that the source of this outbreak may be in our very own state.

There have been at least 32 cases of E. coli reported across 11 states. Of those cases, 10 were based in California – nine of them in Los Angeles County.

The first outbreak occurred during the spring of 2018, and 210 people became sick in 36 states. Investigators eventually were able to trace the source of that outbreak to contaminated canal water in a farming area of Yuma, Arizona.

Outbreaks of E. coli have usually been traced back to the farm environment. Well established reservoirs of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli 0157:H7 (STEC) are the intestinal tract of ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, goats, and deer) that are colonized with STEC and shed the organism in manure. It is interesting to note that in Arizona, there was a large concentrated animal feeding operation located adjacent to the irrigation canal that was found to be contaminated.

Investigators have yet to identify a specific farm or region in California as a source of this outbreak. Meanwhile, the Centers of Disease Control has issued a warning. They are advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, until we learn more about the outbreak. Most retailers and restaurants have taken it off their shelves and thrown it away.

Personally, I like eating romaine lettuce in my salads. I guess I’ll take their advice and stop eating that stuff. Anyone care to join me tonight for a bowl of chicken soup?