CDC digs for more clues in multistate E coli outbreak

Posted January 05, 2018

"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 romaine lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", according to James Rogers, Ph.D, who is CR's director of food safety and research. In the US, the infections have been confirmed in 13 states - California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

It's certainly possible that the two outbreaks could be the same, but US officials say they need more evidence to make that conclusion.

Until a food source in the USA outbreak has identified, food safety experts quoted in a Consumer Reports story yesterday advised consumers to temporarily avoid romaine lettuce.

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Another possibility is that the E. coli strain causing illness in the United States is actually slightly different from the strain in Canada.

Kidney failure due to a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome can occur in 5 to 10% of the population exposed to tainted food.

The CDC said illnesses had begun between November 15 and December 8, 2017.

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The PHAC has linked the outbreak to romaine lettuce, based on interviews with sick patients, and has urged Canadians to temporarily avoid eating romaine lettuce, though no products have been recalled. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control is investigating the issue, but has not yet issued a general warning. People in 13 states, including NY and CT, have been infected.

USA authorities said Thursday that they continue to investigate a deadly multistate outbreak of E. coli infections that may be tied to romaine lettuce. At the time the Public Health Agency of Canada had identified the source of the outbreak as romaine lettuce.

He said so far, data aren't sufficient to link the U.S. cases to romaine lettuce. The CDC is now interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week prior to getting sick.

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Those most at risk are the young, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems. However, it's better to be safe than sorry, and the warning released by Canadian authorities should be grounds enough to avoid romaine lettuce for a while.