A teleconference today held by officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could not explain why this particular strain of E. coli has only been tied to romaine, which is especially puzzling given that the farm with the contaminated reservoir also grows other lettuce varieties.
Officials have lifted some of the restrictions on the types of romaine lettuce consumers can safely eat after zeroing in on the source of an E. coli outbreak. Officials said a water reservoir at Adams Brothers Farms in Santa Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the owners are cooperating with US officials.
The CDC said areas where the contaminated lettuce may have been grown are from California's Monterey, San Benito and Santa Barbara Counties.
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"As of December 13, our investigation yielded records from five restaurants in four different states that have identified 11 different distributors, nine different growers, and eight different farms as potential sources of contaminated romaine lettuce", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement issued immediately after the news conference. No deaths linked to the outbreak has been reported. "We're intensively interested in answering that question", Ostroff said.
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. Officials said they believe the E. coli somehow ended up in the water used for irrigation.
Farms, the producer linked to the pre-Thanksgiving outbreak, has not shipped lettuce since November 20 and has cooperated with the investigation, the FDA said in a statement. So far, the investigation has identified 11 distributors, nine growers and eight farms as potential sources.
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"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.
Investigators collected samples from the Adam Bros. Most strains are harmless.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection, which usually begin about three or four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC.
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