What you need to know: The lettuce-linked E. coli outbreak

05 January, 2018, 13:39 | Author: Leticia Riley

One person has died.

The outbreak spread across 13 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

Not only does he advise not purchasing romaine lettuce now on grocery store shelves, he suggests consumers toss out any they have in the fridge.

The consumer advocacy group is now calling on the Food and Drug Administration and CDC to do more to warn the public about the dangers of the outbreak.

A similar outbreak in Canada was traced to romaine lettuce. So far, five people have been hospitalized in the U.S. There's also been one reported death in Canada.

Consumer Reports is recommending that Americans avoid all romaine lettuce for now, but other food safety experts say it may be too soon to blame romaine for the outbreak.

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In the USA, seventeen illnesses across 13 states have been connected to the outbreak.

In its news release, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it had a total of 41 cases of E. coli infections in an outbreak that involved five eastern provinces.

Since mid-November, dozens of people have become ill and two people have died in Canada and the USA due to infection with E. coli 0157:H7, which has been linked in this country to contaminated romaine lettuce. Healthy adults usually recover within a week, but young children and older adults have an increased risk of developing a life-threatening type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Ian Williams, PhD, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, told CIDRAP News that the last illness onset was Dec 8, and though cases are still being reported, the pace of new reports appears to be slowing.

Williams explained that with cases "spread out all over the place" and people having to report what they ate, in many cases over a month ago, it's been hard to identify the source in Canada and the US.

Neither the US nor Canadian health officials have provided information on where the suspect romaine lettuce was grown or processed. "Depending on how it was contaminated, if it was in one large place and it's the water that was contaminated, that could have implications for other food materials that might have been exposed".

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