Oregon health officials confirmed today that deer droppings caused an E. coli outbreak traced to strawberries.
Scientists picked up environmental samples from fields at Jaquith Strawberry Farm in rural Washington County and 10 tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. Of those, six matched the strain that sickened 15 people in Oregon, including one woman who died. The other four were separate strains of E. coli O157:H7.
William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, said the outbreak strain turned up in samples from fields in three separate locations.
“It could be one deer that conceivably traveled from one field to another,” Keene said. But he said the positive tests probably indicate that several or perhaps many of the deer around Jaquith’s property carry O157:H7.
But they don’t know for sure because they’ve not done much testing.
A total of seven people were hospitalized in the outbreak and three suffered kidney failure, Keene said.