Two additional cases of E. coli infection possibly linked to tainted strawberries have been discovered in Clatsop County.
The Oregon Department of Health issued a warning Monday after 16 people in northwest Oregon, including four in Clatsop County, were sickened with the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria strain believed to have come from strawberries from a Newberg-area farm. One of the people infected, a woman in Washington County, died.
The two new suspected cases were reported to the Clatsop County Public Health Department on Wednesday. At least one of the people is known to have eaten strawberries traced to Jaquith Strawberry Farms, the source of the tainted berries. Specimens from the two people have been sent to a laboratory for confirmation.
Both people have been treated at a local clinic and did not require hospitalization. The four other local cases were also relatively mild.
E. coli is a common inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract and is usually harmless, but E. coli O157:H7, a strain carried by some animals, often produces toxins that can cause mild to severe intestinal illness, including severe cramps and diarrhea. Severe cases can include complications such as kidney damage.
The suspect berries were sold at a variety of farmers markets and road-side stands throughout northwest Oregon and southwest Washington prior to Jul 29, when Jaquith farm ended its strawberry harvest.
Local and state health officials urge anyone who may have purchased strawberries from one of these vendors to dispose of the fruit, including berries stored in the freezer. Freezing does not kill the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture Food Safety Division has posted a listing of all the known outlets where berries from Jaquith farm were sold. To see the list go to www.oregon.gov/ODA/FSD/strawberries.shtml
The department notes that the list is not all-inclusive - Jaquith berries may have been sold by other vendors. As a result, consumers are still advised to dispose of any berries they purchased prior to July 29 at any farmers market or road-side stand.
Strawberries purchased after Aug. 1 or at supermarkets, or other types of berries, have not been implicated in the outbreak.