CDC says E. coli outbreak is over, but it never found the source

In mid-November, the CDC detailed a multi-state E. coli outbreak first announced by the FDA. As with other outbreaks, officials were investigating the source of the illnesses, something that was narrowed down to 'leafy greens,' but no specific variety, brand, or company was linked. In an update, the CDC says the outbreak is over, but the source is still a mystery.

The CDC published its final update on the outbreak just before Christmas, explaining that while the illnesses were linked to leafy greens, investigators weren't able to narrow it down to a particular type of lettuce or brand.

Regardless, the CDC says, 'You do not need to avoid eating leafy greens because of this outbreak.' The outbreak resulted in 40 reported illnesses across 19 states, half of which resulted in hospitalizations. Of those who were hospitalized, four patients developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. There weren't any deaths, however.

The illnesses appeared from August 10 to October 31. The reason for the inability to identify the specific variety of green leaf responsible for the illnesses was due to the fact that patients said they'd eaten a variety of greens — and, the agency notes, many varieties are grown and harvested together.

Outbreaks involving lettuce aren't uncommon, and the CDC explains that there are steps you can take to protect your health when eating salad goods. The agency says, among other things, that you can reduce your risk when eating raw leafy greens by removing the outer leaves and any bruised leaves, washing any leaves that aren't described as 'ready to eat,' and washing your hands before and after handling the produce.