SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, triggering a nation-wide warning not consume the leafy vegetable, has been tracked to a farm in Santa Barbara County, federal health officials announced Thursday.
In a conference call, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said E.coli had been discovered in the sediment of a water reservoir used to irrigate the Adam Brothers Farms in the Santa Maria Valley.
But they added there may be other sources and the investigation was continuing.
Officials said a ban on romaine lettuce harvested after November 23rd from Ventura, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties farms has been lifted, but an advisory remained in effect for lettuce grown in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties.
Other growing areas, for example Florida, Mexico and the desert growing regions near Yuma and Imperial County, Riverside County do not appear to be related to the current outbreak.
“What we are seeing is there are multiple distributors and multiple processors and multiple farms that show up in the various legs of that traceback and they don’t all lead back specifically to this farm,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Senior Advisor to the FDA commissioner. “We are not in position to conclude that this the only location that may have been involved in the outbreak.”
Federal health officials said seven additional cases of E.coli infections have been reported since December 6, bringing the total to 59 cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia since the outbreak was first reported in early October.
Illnesses have been reported in 15 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
“We expect to see additional illnesses reported due to the 2- to 3-week time period from when a person gets sick to when it is reported to CDC,” official said in a release last week.
Some romaine lettuce products from the Central California Coast are now labeled with a harvest location by region. Check bags or boxes for a label to confirm where it was grown.
If the romaine lettuce is not labeled, health officials said, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are also coordinating with US agencies to investigate a similar outbreak there.
In Canada, there are 27 illnesses under investigation, according to the Public Health Agency, which continues to advise residents in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to avoid eating romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine unless consumers can identify where it came from.
People with symptoms of an E. coli infection, such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, who think they might have gotten sick from eating romaine lettuce, should talk to their doctor and report their illness to the health department.
If you have further questions about this outbreak, please call the CDC media line at (404) 639-3286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about cases in a particular state, please call that state’s health department.
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