CDC: Canal Water Started the Yuma-linked E. coli Outbreak

CDC: Canal Water Started the Yuma-linked E. coli Outbreak

Lettuce production in the deserts of Southern California and Yuma, AZ, typically utilize sprinklers during the germination and stand establishment phase followed by furrow irrigation. Photo credit: David Still

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it and partner agencies had made breakthroughs in its investigation of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma-AZ area. The contamination stems from canal water, presumably used by multiple farms, since FDA also announced the tainted romaine was grown in several farms in the region.

CDC, FDA, local and state agencies are still investigating how the canals came to be contaminated.


In its release, only one canal has tested positive for a closely related strain of E. coli O157:H7, linked to those who fell ill. Other canals are being tested, but no results have been announced. The agencies are also investigating how the water reached the romaine growing fields.

Outbreak Appears to be Over

CDC says the E. coli outbreak appears to be finished. It was a difficult and deadly outbreak:

  • 5 people died, one each in Arkansas, California, and New York. Two died in Minnesota.
  • 210 people were infected, and the outbreak spread across 36 states.
  • 96 people were ill enough to require hospitalization. Of those, 27 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.