For the latest updates on the E. coli outbreak in Oregon and the issues surrounding it, please see our Aug. 12 story: Strawberry investigation continues, sparks Tester Amendment discussion.
(UPDATED COVERAGE, Aug. 10) One woman is dead in relation to an E. coli outbreak in Oregon, traced to strawberries from a farm where deer were seen in a field.
The Oregon Public Health Division warned the public Aug. 8 about the cluster of E. coli illnesses and advised throwing out any strawberries bought at Jaquith Strawberry Farm’s roadside stands or area farmers markets.
The farm ended its season in late July and none of the strawberries remain for sale, according to the health department. But Paul Cieslak from the health division’s Office of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology said the danger has not necessarily passed.
“If you have any strawberries from this producer — frozen, in uncooked jam or in any uncooked form — throw them out,” Cieslak said in the warning letter.
On Aug. 9, Cieslak said the state health division is the lead investigating agency because the outbreak is contained within Oregon. He said state officials notified the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and that both agencies are “watching with interest.”
Thirteen people have been confirmed as having the specific strain of E. coli involved. Tests on another person are pending. All became sick July 10-29. One elderly woman in Washington County, Oregon, died from kidney failure associated with the E. coli infection.
Cieslak said the operators of Jaquith Strawberry Farm are cooperating with the investigation and recalled all their product. He said his best guess as of Aug. 9 was that the contamination was the result of deer wandering into a growing field.
“We do have reports that deer were seen in one of the farm’s fields,” the doctor said. “The farmer has several fields and the you-pick field was picked clean, but no illnesses were reported by people who ate berries from that field.”
Inspectors from the Oregon Public Health Division “spent a lot of time at the farm” collecting samples and checking for contamination sources, Cieslak said. Results from the field test samples are still pending, but Cieslak said the investigators did not find any sanitary problems.
A message on the Jaquith Strawberry Farm answering machine states that the farm season is over and the farmstand closed July 9.
All of the berries were sold fresh at roadside stands, area farmers markets and from the you-pick field at Jaquith Strawberry Farm.