The Washington Post reports five people have died and nearly 200 from about three dozen states have been sickened by E. coli in a growing outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the official death count of the lettuce eating victims on Friday.
So far federal investigators are stumped over the source of the outbreak. Although investigators have determined that the E. coli came from contaminated romaine lettuce grown in Arizona’s Yuma region near the border with Southern California, the Food and Drug Administration has not been able to link the outbreak to one farm, processor or distributor, according to Scott Gottlieb, the agency’s commissioner, and Stephen Ostroff, the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in an update Thursday.
The FDA initially said that only bagged and pre-chopped romaine lettuce that had been distributed to retailers across the country was contaminated with E. coli, but a number of inmates at a prison in Alaska also became ill after eating whole-head lettuce. Health officials said children under the age of 5, seniors older than 65 and those with weak immune systems are most vulnerable. So far, the outbreak has sickened people ages 12 to 84.
To reiterate…the FDA has no idea how to prevent the E Coli, or the source.