Coli Outbreak is "Likely" Leafy Greens While Canada Declares Outbreak Over

The CDC noted that leafy greens were the likely source of the outbreak but Canadian health authorities pointed specifically to romaine lettuce for the spread of E. coli infections in the Eastern provinces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 24 infections of the strain E. coli O157:H7 have occurred in 15 states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Vermont Maryland, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, among others.

"The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill", the CDC said Wednesday. Because leafy greens tend to have a short shelf life-and because the last known illness related to the outbreak occurred last month-it is likely that the contaminated food that's causing illness is no longer available in retail stores or foodservice establishments.

People are no longer being advised to consider other lettuces instead of romaine. One of those people died. CDC continues to work with regulatory partners in several states, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to identify the source.

In the USA, the FDA, which had not posted any public information about the outbreak until today, is assisting the CDC, but has virtually nothing to report. It also warns not to purchase packaged, loose or mixed salads that may have romaine lettuce.

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.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea (often bloody) and stomach cramps. Most people recover from the illness in five to seven days but some develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be fatal. People usually get sick from E. coli O157:H7 three to four days after eating food contaminated with the germ.

To help prevent E. coli infection, wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing and eating food. Finally, avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

Produce trade organizations issued a statement that, as of last week, no public health agency had contacted romaine lettuce growers or processors and asked to stop shipping product. Rinsing produce with cool water is a good way to protect against any bacteria lingering on the surface - though not a surefire solution to product contamination. At least 41 people were sickened in that country, with one death. "You can't taste, smell or see E. coli, which is what makes it so risky". Romaine lettuce is mostly eaten raw and washing it or any produce tainted with E. coli will not remove the harmful bacteria.

  • Santos West