Canadians became sick due to E. coli in romaine lettuce

Canadians became sick due to E. coli in romaine lettuce

It's unclear if new illness are still occurring.

There are now 149 cases of persons falling ill after consuming romaine lettuce, with a total of 29 states affected.

The CDC said four more states - Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas - have been hit by the outbreak, bringing the total number of affected states to 29.

Federal health officials say six Canadians have been stricken by a strain of E. coli that has a similar genetic fingerprint to romaine lettuce from the USA southwest that has already sickened 149 people in 29 states.

The Public Health Agency of Canada states two of those six Canadians reported traveling into the US before falling sick because of E. coli O157, three became contaminated in Canada along with the rest of the situation is under investigation.

The current outbreak is the worst since 2006, when E. coli contaminated spinach killed three people and sickened 199 others across 26 states.

Usually, illness sets in "an average of three to four days after swallowing the germ".

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For most, recovery will occur within a week, but more severe cases last longer. Some individuals may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks.

"We have many lines of evidence suggesting to us right now that all of these illnesses are connected in some way through romaine grown in the Yuma region [of Arizona]", Matthew Wise, the CDC deputy branch chief for outbreak response, said recently.

"This is a higher hospitalization rate than usual for E. coli O157:H7 infections, which is usually around 30 percent", the agency said.

The agency says if it is determined that contaminated romaine lettuce is in the Canadian market, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will recall the product as required.

However, the agency confirmed that no other types of lettuce or any other growing region for romaine are involved in the outbreak. Also, the outbreak that has taken place in an Alaska correctional facility has been linked to Yuma-based Harrison Farms.

The CDC is still advising consumers to avoid eating or buying any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region.

This advisory includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads containing romaine lettuce. "If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it".

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