E. coli outbreak in US, Canada may be linked to romaine lettuce

The states include: California (3), CT (2), IL (1), IN (1), MI (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), NY (1), OH (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), Vermont (1) and Washington (1).

Fifty-eight people in the USA and Canada have gotten sick from the bacteria in the last few weeks, and one person in each country has died. The CDC said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the state health departments where the cases were reported were also investigating.

Because the source of infection has yet to be identified, the CDC can't say what types of food to avoid. In the United States, the illness has occurred in 13 states, including California. America's onsets appear concentrated between the end of November and the start of December, but, again, authorities aren't sure what exactly is infected, so they can't say that the threat is contained.

Most of the patients reported eating romaine lettuce, according to Canadian health officials. "They can say it's romaine lettuce, but they cannot say what lettuce and from where", he said.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections.

He said the longer it takes to pin down the source of adulteration, the more hard it will become over time, given that romaine is a perishable item.

Consumer Reports' researchers say romaine is especially hazardous because it's nearly always eaten raw, and the director of its Food Policy Initiatives advises the FDA to do what the Canadian government did and "immediately warn the public" about romaine's potential risks. People in 13 states, including NY and CT, have been infected. The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported on 41 illnesses. The available data strongly suggest that romaine lettuce is the source of the USA outbreak. "Depending on how it was contaminated, if it was in one large place and it's the water that was contaminated, that could have implications for other food materials that might have been exposed".

Williams explained that with cases "spread out all over the place" and people having to report what they ate, in many cases over a month ago, it's been hard to identify the source in Canada and the US.

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