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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they are closer to finding the source of illness for the Taco John E. coli outbreak late last year – the answer may be a farm field in Central Valley.

The FDA reports, health officials have DNA- matched the strain of E. coli bacteria that was is associated with the outbreak with two samples gathered from dairy farms near a lettuce growing area in California’s Central Valley.

The agency didn’t respond to Central Valley Business Time’s phone or email request to find a more specific location.

The investigation is still ongoing, including obtaining more samples to help determine if and how material from the dairy farms may have contaminated the lettuce growing area, said the FDA.

The outbreak caused approximately 81 people to be sick in November and December of 2006. 26 people were hospitalized and two suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome (a serious complication that can cause permanent damage and even death). However, no deaths were associated with the outbreak. The outbreak is now considered over and new new cases of illness have been reported.

Headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taco John’s has franchises in more than 25 states, although the outbreak was associated only with the Taco John restaurants located in Iowa and Minnesota.

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