National E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Infected Canal Water in Arizona
A recent E-coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from Yuma appears to have been caused by infected water canals in the area, states public officials.
About the E. Coli Outbreak
According to the WSB-TV, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated Thursday that the current outbreak is the largest E. coli outbreak in over a decade.
Since the initial announcement of the multistate outbreak on April 10, the bacteria infected 210 people across 36 states. The outbreak caused five deaths and 96 hospitalizations, including 27 people who developed a type of kidney failure.
Both federal and state officials had originally traced the outbreak to farms in the Yuma, Arizona region. On Thursday it was announced that they had taken samples from the water, soil and manure in the area. The report read that “CDC laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in water samples taken from a canal in the Yuma growing region.”
A Long-Term Problem for Yuma Farmers?
A food-safety expert, Bill Marler, says he expects the finding will cause long-term challenges for Yuma.
Given this strain of E. coli is nearly always linked to cattle, Marler states he assumes there are feedlots or cattle farms upstream that caused the canal to become infected.
The CDC and the FDA are continuing to test other environmental samples to learn more about how the E. coli bacteria could have entered the water and ways this water could have contaminated romaine lettuce in the region.
Tips to Avoid E. Coli Infection
Here are a few helpful tips to avoid E-coli infections:
- Thoroughly cook all of your food especially meat
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and juices
- Do not swallow the water when swimming
- Wash your hands regularly
E. Coli Facts and Statistics
- Anywhere from 11 to 28 percent of the U.S. population is estimated to consume ground beef raw or uncooked.
CDC counted at least 75 outbreaks associated with beef over the five-year period between 2009 and 2013. Of those, 35 percent were caused by E. coli.
- E. coli O157:H7, the pathogen most commonly associated with ground beef, causes an estimated 96,000 illnesses, 3,200 hospitalizations and 31 deaths in the U.S. each year.
- CDC tracked 391 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the 10 years between 2003 and 2012. Between those outbreaks, the agency confirmed 4,930 cases of illness, with 1,274 (26 percent) hospitalizations, 300 (6 percent) cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and 34 deaths.
- Food is by far the most common source of E. coli O157:H7, accounting for 65 percent of cases. The other major sources of E. coli are animal contact (10 percent) and person-to-person transmission (10 percent).
- The most common food source for E. coli turns out to be beef, which has been implicated in 55 percent of E. coli outbreaks.
- CDC also tracked more E. coli outbreaks from 2003-2012 than in the previous 20 years.
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