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Avoid All Types Of Romaine Lettuce, Warns U.S., Canada Regulators

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As the investigation of an ongoing multistate outbreak of E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce progresses, regulatory authorities in the U.S. and Canada have warned consumers not to eat any type of romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.

According to the latest information, thirty-two people in 11 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin), and 18 people in the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, have been infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7.

In the U.S., 13 people have been hospitalized while in Canada, six have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Although romaine lettuce has been identified as a source of the outbreak, the cause of contamination has not been identified yet.

The outbreak strain in the current outbreak, i.e. E. coli O157, has been found to be the same as that involved in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada.

Compared to other strains, E. coli O157 is known to cause severe illness. E. coli O157 infection causes diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Illness may be complicated by a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. The investigation of that outbreak, which registered a case count of 210 people across 36 states, 96 hospitalizations, and 5 deaths, was concluded in June of this year.

So, until more is known about the current multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections, it is better to avoid all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

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