CDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections

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Romaine lettuce is suspected to be at the centre of an E.Coli outbreak in the United States and Canada that has caused two deaths and sickened nearly 60 people since November.

According to the CDC, five people in the US have been hospitalized and one has died. Health officials say the illnesses were reported in Canada and 13 states including New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.

While the CDC gave no recommendations on whether people should avoid a particular food, Consumer Reports is advising that people should not consume romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified.

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In the last seven weeks, multiple people from various states and in Canada have fallen ill due to a risky strain of E. coli bacteria.

As of December 28, 2017, Canadian health officials have reported 41 cases of the strain and linked the infections to romaine lettuce.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", said James Rogers, Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports. The agency says they can not yet link the outbreak of E. Coli to a certain type of food.

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"Do not buy romaine lettuce and don't use any that you may have in your refrigerator until there is more information on the source of contamination".

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. 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.

"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 said.

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