Medicine

CDC: Romaine lettuce may be behind E. coli outbreak

CDC: Romaine lettuce may be behind E. coli outbreak

Health officials confirm there have not been any cases reported on P.E.I., but according to the latest national update from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are 41 reported cases of the illness in Canada and another 16 in the U.S. The outbreak has affected people in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In the USA, the infections have occurred in 13 states including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington state.

Fifty-eight people in the USA and Canada have gotten sick from the bacteria in the last few weeks, and one person in each country has died. One death has been reported. Though U.S. health officials are investigating the cause of the outbreak, they have not officially identified lettuce or any other food as the source.

Another possibility is that the E. coli strain causing illness in the United States is actually slightly different from the strain in Canada. Two patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney complication.

According to the CDC, the type of E. coli making people sick genetically matches the bacteria involved in the Canadian outbreak.

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Canadian health authorities identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in their country, and since December 14 have been advising people in the country's eastern provinces to consider eating other types of salad greens until further notice. In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control is investigating the issue, but has not yet issued a general warning.

US authorities said Thursday that they continue to investigate a deadly multistate outbreak of E. coli infections that may be tied to romaine lettuce. Five people have been hospitalized in the USA, and the cases are spread over 13 states, from California to Vermont and from Washington state to Virginia. "This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available", the agency said in a statement. The CDC is now interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week prior to getting sick.

He added that people in certain risk groups, such as young children, seniors, and people with underlying health conditions, be especially vigilant about avoiding romaine lettuce for the time being. "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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