US, Canada investigating possible E. coli link to romaine lettuce

The CDC says because the E. coli strains in both countries are genetically related, the ill people likely share "a common source of infection".

The Consumer Reports article states that "five people in the USA have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)".

The CDC says since they haven't found the source yet, they can't recommend whether U-S residents avoid a particular food.

But consumer reports have cautioned consumers to avoid romaine lettuce until the source of the outbreak has been uncovered. In the same context, the US health officials try to find the exact cause for illness in people and ask them what they had a week before their illness. Most people get sick within a few days of ingesting this pathogenic bacteria, and the illness usually lasts about a week, unless a complication occurs.

In Canada, one person has died and 17 have been hospitalized.

The people most at risk from E. coli infections are young children, older adults and people with weak immune systems.

The Public Health Agency of Canada issued a notice about romaine lettuce in December. Those symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps and watery or bloody diarrhea.

On the same date, PHAC said Canada's E. coli outbreak appears to be "ongoing", noting that illnesses continue to be reported. We will keep you informed as more information is released. In Canada, there have been 41 cases reported, contained to the eastern provinces of Ontario (8), Quebec (14), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (13).

Consumer advocacy groups believe the CDC and FDA are being too soft on placing a warning on romaine lettuce.

Neither the US nor Canadian health officials have provided information on where the suspect romaine lettuce was grown or processed. Heather Morrison says Islanders may want to be safe and eat other types of lettuce. Anyone concerned that they might have an E. coli infection should talk to their health care provider, he said.

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