Investigators say a wild pigs were very likely the source of a spinach E. coli outbreak that caused the death of three people and made over 200 people ill in the USA and Canada. The investigators have found six new samples of the E. coli strain that match those of the tainted spinach on a ranch in California. The ranch is located in Monterey and San Benito counties.
Two samples came from a wild pig (wild boar) that was killed on the ranch, while the other four came from cattle in the same ranch, according to the California Department of Health Services. Investigators say the pigs probably spread the bacteria into the spinach fiends through their droppings (excrement). However, so far, no one really knows how the bacteria made it way to the spinach farm.
Dr. Kevin Reilly, from the California Department of Health Services, said “Clearly, we have positive results on one property that are helping to refine our investigation. We have not closed any possibilities on three other ranches, but the information is accumulating that our environmental findings are consistent on this one property.”
Reilly added “Animals, wildlife and water were in close proximity to the field. We have evidence for fences torn down, wildlife going into the actual spinach fields themselves. That’s where the investigation is centered right now. There’s clear evidence that the pig population has access and goes onto the fields. Is that the ultimate means of contamination or is that one potential means, including water and wildlife? We’re still investigating that.”
Investigations are still underway at three other ranches in the area. Samples from there did contain E. coli, but they did not match the ones found in the tainted spinach.
Since September 25th nobody has become ill as a result of eating raw spinach. The FDA says it is safe to eat raw spinach.
Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today