A pig, a bug, a bag of spinach: It sounds like the answer to a riddle, and in a way, it is. Sometime late last summer, a wandering band of wild pigs trampled a fence and trotted into a spinach field in California’s Salinas Valley. As they rooted around in the leafy greens, they most likely left behind feces infested with a virulent strain of the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli—picked up, it appears, from a nearby cattle pasture. The hardy breed of E. coli, dubbed O157:H7, normally lives harmlessly by the billions at the rear end of a cow’s gut. But in this case, the bacteria nestled craftily in the crevices of the spinach leaves, sticking to the vegetables as they were harvested, chopped, washed, bagged, and then transported across the country to states from Oregon to Maine. In September and October, nearly 200 people who dined on the infested spinach became ill with bloody diarrhea. Thirty-one developed severe kidney disease, and three people died.( more from discover)
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