January 22, 2018

Coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Associated with Leafy Greens; Romaine?

11 January 2018, 09:52 | Winifred Adams

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U.S. Officials Not Ready to Blame E. coli Outbreak on Lettuce

Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source of illness there, but where the greens came from or where they were contaminated is unknown.

Agricultural industry associations in the United States reported that public health authorities in Canada declared an end to the outbreak of infections caused by E. coli O157: H7 bacteria, associated with consumption of romaine lettuce, while in the U.S. the Centers for Control and Prevention of Diseases (CDC) continue to investigate, but do not consider that there is a risk for consuming green leafy vegetables. "We're working closely with partners to identify that source".

"Leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale", the CDC said.

The CDC said that six of the seven new cases occurred within the time frame of all the other reported incidents, between November 15 and December 8. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure. CR said it's also important to remember it's not just the romaine found at the grocery store, but also what people may find in a cafeteria or restaurant.

"State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started". Canada has also announced that they believe the outbreak in that country is over. However, an eerily similar outbreak in the still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Of 13 people interviewed, all 13 reported eating leafy greens.

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In Canada, health officials said romaine lettuce is now safe to eat.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has completed its food safety investigation and all samples tested were negative for E. coli.

Last week the CDC said it was eying leafy greens as the possible culprit and this week seem to be still looking for the source as the outbreak investigation continues.

"Based on these statements, both governments have concluded that the food responsible for this foodborne illness outbreak is no longer in the market".

However, neither Canadian authorities nor the CDC have even been able to figure out exactly how people were getting sick; some people ate prepared salads at restaurants, while others likely got sick eating lettuce at home.

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