Salinas, Calif. A nationwide E. coli outbreak linked to California's coastal counties sickened five more people, bringing the number of cases to 192 in 26 states, federal officials said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, health investigators found that fecal samples from cows in pastures "right next door" to two Salinas Valley spinach fields tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7, said a state health official.
Tests to determine a genetic match to the outbreak strain will take about two more days, said Kevin Reilly, deputy director for prevention services at the Department of Health Services.
If the strains match, investigators would need to figure out how the bacteria from the cow feces spread to the nearby spinach fields. Possibilities include irrigation water, rainfall runoff, roaming cattle and wild animals.