Wild pigs may have spread lethal E. coli

CALIFORNIA - Wild pigs may have rammed through a farm fence and spread deadly bacteria onto a California spinach field, sparking an outbreak that killed three people and sickened more than 200 others, investigators said Thursday.
calendar icon 27 October 2006
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Samples from a wild boar, a creek and cattle found on a Central Coast ranch match the E. coli strain that tainted spinach at the center of the outbreak, they said.

The samples were found on a pasture within a mile of the ranch where three samples of cattle manure, also genetically linked to the strain, were collected earlier this month. The site has not been made public by health investigators.

Health officials said they found holes in a fence separating a cattle-grazing pasture on the same ranch as a 50-acre plot where spinach was growing this summer, likely the work of the large wild pig population in the vicinity. Animal tracks spread across the field were seen.

Still six weeks and 750 samples into their investigation, health officials said they don't know exactly how the E. coli made its way from the adjacent pasture onto the spinach.

Source: Monterey Herald
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