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E. coli traced to Oregon strawberry farm

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Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 1:50 pm | Updated: 8:34 am, Tue Aug 9, 2011.

An E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 10 people, including an elderly woman who died, has been traced to an Oregon strawberry farm, the Oregon Health Authority reports.

The contaminated berries were grown at Jaquith Strawberry Farm at 23135 SW Jaquith Road in Newberg, according to the authority.

Jaquith finished its strawberry season in late July. Its strawberries are no longer on the market.

The farm sold its berries to vendors who then resold them at roadside stands and farmers' markets, according to a news release from the state authority.

Health officials urge consumers who purchased strawberries grown on the farm to dispose of them.

"If you have any strawberries from this producer -- frozen, in uncooked jam, or any uncooked form -- throw them out," said Paul Cieslak, a doctor with the Oregon Public Health Division.

Cooking kills E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

The 10 people sickened from a single strain of E. coli include residents of Washington, Clatsop and Multnomah counties. Six other people in northwest Oregon have recently developed E. coli infection and appear to be part of the outbreak, the health authority said.

Of the confirmed cases, four have been hospitalized. The elderly woman, from Washington County, died from kidney failure associated with E. coli infection, the health authority said. The 16 people involved in the case fell ill between July 10 and 29.

Philip Gutt, administrator of the Oregon Strawberry Commission, said the commission is developing a communication plan.

"We hope the plan will address what the strawberry commission can do to help communicate to the public the gravity of the situation, and to let the public know this was an isolated incident," Gutt said.

"We have a long history of good agricultural practices and safety in the field," he said.

Gutt said the commission fears the outbreak could negatively affect late-season fresh market sales.

"There are still some fresh market berries out there, but those are safe," Gutt said.

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