Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

1 dead, dozens get sick after E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce

Leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, were the cause of E. coli outbreaks in 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Consumer Reports is urging people in the United States and Canada to avoid eating romaine lettuce after an outbreak of E. Coli infections. It also killed one person in the USA and one in Canada.

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One person has also died in Canada. Those states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

CDC officials are still investigating, but officials say the likely cause of the outbreak is romaine lettuce.

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States affected by the outbreak, which was first reported due to illness on November 15, 2017, are California (3), CT (2), IL (1), IN (1), MI (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), NY (1), OH (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). "The FDA should follow the lead of the Canadian government and immediately warn the public about this risk", says Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. Romaine lettuce was identified as the source of the outbreak in Canada and CDC officials are interviewing those sickened to determine the source of the illness in the U.S.

In the USA, 17 cases are being investigated as part of the outbreak. The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons. The CDC estimates that about one in six Americans are made sick by foodborne illnesses every year - that's about 48 million people. 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.

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"Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and HUS than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill", the CDC advises.

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