Romaine E. coli outbreak: What you need to know

Brittany A. Roston - Nov 20, 2018, 3:55 pm CST
Romaine E. coli outbreak: What you need to know

The Centers for Disease Control has published another E. coli advisory involving romaine lettuce sold in the US and Canada. The latest advisory follows an outbreak earlier this year, during which time the public was advised to discard packaged romaine lettuce products over the health risk. This time around, the CDC warns that “any type of romaine lettuce” should be trashed.

The public is advised to throw away any lettuce products that may contain romaine or that are of an unknown variety. As well, drawers and other parts of a fridge should be sanitized if they were used to store romaine lettuce; all products are a potential health risk and should not be consumed.

According to the CDC, a total of 32 people have been impacted by an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157.H7 strain. The infections span 11 US states and include 13 hospitalizations, one case of kidney failure, but no deaths.

In addition to the US outbreak, Canada’s Public Health Agency has reported a total of 18 individuals impacted by the same E. coli strain, indicating that the romaine lettuce is sold throughout North America. These illnesses were identified in Quebec and Ontario.

Unfortunately, antibiotic treatments aren’t recommended for dealing with this type of E. coli strain infection, as it may increase their risk of developing a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Evidence from both the US and Canadian outbreaks point toward romaine lettuce as the cause of both.

According to the CDC, this E. coli’s DNA fingerprint is the same as the strain that impacted romaine lettuce in Canada and “leafy greens” in the US last year. However, this latest issue doesn’t have any relation to the E. coli romaine outbreak that took place earlier this year in the US.

No supplier, grower, or other source has been identified at this time. As with past outbreaks, the CDC will publish other future advisories with additional information when it becomes available. There’s no indication of how long the public may need to avoid romaine lettuce before the source is identified.

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