WASHINGTON The strain of deadly E. coli behind a recent outbreak has been linked to a cattle ranch next to Salinas Valley spinach fields, California and federal investigators said today.
The strain of pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 was found in three cattle fecal samples collected at one of four ranches under investigation, the officials said. The ranch is within a mile of produce fields.
We do not have a definite cause-and-effect here. We do have a very important finding, said Dr. Kevin Reilly, deputy director of the Prevention Services Division of the California Department of Health Services.
Investigators still do not know how the feces could have contaminated the spinach implicated in the bacterial outbreak.
The recent outbreak of E. coli in spinach killed three people and sickened nearly 200 in half the states. It was the 20th such outbreak in lettuce or spinach since 1995.
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