Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

US, Canada investigating possible E. coli link to romaine lettuce

US, Canada investigating possible E. coli link to romaine lettuce

Five people have been hospitalized, according to Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch. The deaths occurred in the US and Canada, according to a report from Consumer Reports.

So far 58 people have fallen ill and two have died in an E. coli outbreak in the USA and Canada which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says started in November. Two people have died in the USA and Canada, according Consumer Reports.

The CDC last reported on the outbreak on December 28 It said 17 people were sick in those 13 states, dating back to November. "Based on the Canada investigation, romaine lettuce seems like the most likely source there", the CDC's Ian Williams says.

For now, Consumer Reports' food safety experts are advising that everyone stops eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified.

Individuals reported eating romaine lettuce at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains.

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The EPA suggests installing a mitigation system if your home is at a level of 4 picocuries or more per liter of indoor air. CDPH is offering free test kits to households in California throughout the month of January, or until supplies run out.

In the US, officials with the CDC, the FDA, and state public health authorities have been conducting interviews with the 17 people who have become ill in the USA outbreak, to learn what they ate in the week before their illness. In the same context, the US health officials try to find the exact cause for illness in people and ask them what they had a week before their illness.

Romaine lettuce is typically not cooked prior to consumption, so foodborne bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella increasing the risk of illness, officials said.

Because the CDC doesn't know for sure that romaine lettuce is the cause here, the agency stopped short of issuing a recommendation for people here to avoid it. "There is no evidence to suggest that provinces in western Canada are affected by this outbreak".

Some people infected with E. coli may not get sick at all but others may experience symptoms within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria. The most risky effect is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. The strain of bacteria has been identified as shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7, which can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

No one, neither consumer groups or either involved government, is calling for widespread recalls at this time.

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