A multistate E. coli outbreak has food safety experts warning consumers to avoid Romaine lettuce for the time being, as it is said to be the likely cause of the food poisoning. Multiple people in 13 states have been hospitalized, and deaths have also been reported.
Multistate E. Coli Outbreak
In the last seven weeks, multiple people from various states and in Canada have fallen ill due to a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria. As per the Dec. 28 announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 individuals from 13 states, including California, Illinois, Connecticut, Indiana, Washington, New Hampshire, New York, and Nebraska, have fallen ill from the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria between Nov. 15 to Dec. 8, 2017.
Similarly, there were also multiple reports of such illnesses in Canada, wherein the type of E. coli bacteria is genetically similar to the one causing illnesses in the United States. This suggests a common source of infection for the two countries.
Romaine Lettuce To Blame?
So far, authorities in Canada have pointed to Romaine lettuce as the likely source of the infection, while authorities in the United States are still currently conducting an investigation that includes interviewing the infected people to determine the meals they consumed in the week prior to the onset of the illness. The latest reports state 41 cases of infection in Canada, 17 of whom needed to be hospitalized and one of whom has died, while one individual has also died in the United States.
As it stands, both United States and Canadian governments have yet to initiate an official recall for Romaine lettuce products, but the Canadian government has warned against consuming romaine lettuce, while some groceries in Canada have voluntary pulled the products from their shelves.
E. Coli Bacteria
Eschericia coli bacteria, or more commonly known as E. coli, is actually a pretty common bacteria that is often harmless and part of a healthy digestive system. However, there are certain strains of E. coli that can cause illnesses such as the Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli, which is often heard of in relation to food-related outbreaks. This is the same type of E. coli that is responsible for the current outbreak in the United States and Canada.
The dangerous strains of E. coli may cause illnesses such as diarrhea or even ones outside of the digestive tract and are often transmitted through food or via contact with infected people or animals. Symptoms include mild fever, severe stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea.