FDA: Contaminated water may be cause of romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

Health officials believe contaminated water from irrigation canals in Yuma Valley, Ariz., may be the cause of this spring's nationwide E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.

The outbreak sickened 210 people across 36 states, causing 95 hospitalizations and five deaths as of June 27.

Investigators from the FDA and CDC linked the E. coli outbreak to tainted canal water that flooded into growing fields.

"To date, CDC analysis of samples taken from canal water in the region has identified the presence of E. coli O157:H7 with the same genetic fingerprint as the outbreak strain," the FDA said in a June 28 update.

While most strains of E. coli are harmless to humans, the 0157:H7 strain is linked to kidney failure, stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

"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," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a statement.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control: 

Kellogg recalls cereal due to 31-state Salmonella outbreak
Texas Natural Meats recalling 500 pounds of beef due to E. coli
Most grocery store meat contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria: 4 things to know

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