The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that it has linked the first spinach sample in the nation with the outbreak strain of E. coli 0157 that is affecting hundreds across the country.

The Scientific Laboratory Division isolated the nationwide outbreak strain from a package of spinach that one of New Mexico’s patients ate before becoming sick.

“The lab’s finding will move the federal investigation one step forward by showing that the bacteria that made these people sick was also found in the spinach,” said David Mills, the department’s Scientific Lab Division director.