E. coli found in strawberries

Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:47 PM
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MULTNOMAH, Wash., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A Washington state outbreak of E. coli in strawberries has caused at least one death and made at least 16 people sick, public health officials say.

Oregon Public Health officials linked the outbreak to Jaquith Strawberry Farm in rural Washington County, The (Portland) Oregonian reported.

The medium-sized farm had sold strawberries to buyers who then distributed them to roadside stands and farmers markets in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill and Clatsop counties. Farm production of the potentially tainted strawberries was halted July 29 and the last of the berries thought to be contaminated with E. coli were sold on August 1.

Of the four people who have been hospitalized due to E. coli, one has died of kidney failure.

The last illness from the bacteria was reported July 29, but as E. coli has a 10 day incubation period before symptoms surface, health officials are expecting a few more cases to be reported.

"We're likely to see a few more cases trickle in for a bit, but the stuff is gone from the shelves," Dr. Paul Cieslak of Oregon Public Health said. "If you haven't become sick by 10 days, you're not going to."

William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, says deer he saw roaming through the fields may have been the source of the outbreak.

"The guy was unlucky enough to have an animal with the wrong bacteria wandering through his fields," Cieslak said.

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