Health Care

E. Coli outbreak hits Texas amid reports of illness from romaine lettuce

E. Coli outbreak hits Texas amid reports of illness from romaine lettuce”

Federal health officials say two Saskatchewan residents are among six Canadians who have been stricken by a strain of E. coli that has a similar genetic fingerprint to romaine lettuce from the US southwest that has already sickened 149 people in 29 states. However, the CDC warned that due to a lag in reporting, any illness that occurred in the past two to three weeks may not have been counted in this update.

Cases could still increase, since the time that passes between when a person getting sick and when it's reported takes an average of two to three weeks, according to the CDC.

Last week, the CDC announced that one person had died from the E. coli outbreak; the death, in California, was the first known fatality from this outbreak. Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas are the latest states to report illnesses, bringing the total to 29. At this rate, the E. coli outbreak is expected to worsen overtime. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. With supportive treatment, most people recover in a matter of five to seven days.

The bureau says if it's determined that polluted romaine lettuce is at the Canadian marketplace, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will remember the merchandise as needed.

Officials say other area farms could also be affected since numerous E. coli poisoning cases can be traced to chopped lettuce sold in bagged form to restaurants that didn't come from that Yuma farm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region in Arizona and California is no longer being produced and distributed, so the potential for exposure to contaminated lettuce is reduced.

To explain the diverse geographical spread of this outbreak, the FDA said it is still investigating multiple points of origin and distribution. Therefore, it is not being sold or served anymore.

The FDA's Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network says it is now investigating dozens of other fields as potential sources of the tainted chopped Romaine lettuce.

Products containing romaine lettuce often don't indicate growing regions, so it could be hard for consumers to tell whether the vegetable they're buying is tainted with bacteria.

"Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, do not eat or buy romaine lettuce if you do not know where it was grown", the agency said in its warning.

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