7 new E. coli cases; continue avoiding romaine lettuce

Glen Mclaughlin
January 12, 2018

"They know that romaine lettuce is the source of the E. coli outbreak, but they're not sure what the cause of contamination is", Yade said of Canada's progress in investigating the product.

Federal health officials reported seven additional cases of E. coli illness Wednesday in a deadly E. coli outbreak that has now struck 15 USA states.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", James Rogers, director of food safety and research at Consumer Reports, said in a press release.

Numerous sick people reported eating romaine lettuce in various forms from grocery stores, restaurants and other locations.

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in the United States is closely related genetically to the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in Canada.

Last week, the CDC said it was eyeing leafy greens as the possible culprit and, this week, seem to be still looking for the source as the outbreak investigation continues. Consumer Reports recommended that consumers avoid romaine lettuce until the outbreak cause was determined.

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The CDC, for its part, says that it hasn't yet identified the type of leafy green involved and that it's investigation is continuing. Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. However, in the United States, state and federal agencies stopped short of making that declaration, stating that the investigation is ongoing. Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source of illnesses there, but the source of the romaine lettuce or where it became contaminated is unknown. The strain of E. coli involved in this outbreak, O157:H7, is particularly serious.

You can protect yourself by washing your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food. Additionally, it's important to wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued its first announcement about an E coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce on December 11.

In the meantime, we'll keep you posted on CDC and the FDAs findings of where the source of the latest E.coli outbreak is coming from. There has been one death, which was previously reported.

Symptoms of E. coli typically begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria.

"In collaboration with our association colleagues we'd like to share the following update to last week's communications regarding the E. coli O157:H7 foodborne illness outbreak that has impacted many (of our) members", the produce groups' release said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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