E Coli Outbreak Spreads to 15 States; Leafy Greens Suspected

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State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), a microbiologist, affirmed DeLauro's sentiments in a statement to Consumer Reports: "The delay in CDC or FDA providing updated information to consumers is very disappointing.Timely information is critical to avoid potentially contaminated foods and I call on FDA to take all necessary steps to protect public health". CDC continues to work with regulatory partners in several states, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to identify the source.

Photo Canadian health officials linked an E. coli outbreak there to romaine lettuce, while American officials said "leafy greens" were likely to blame for illnesses in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are seven new E. coli cases in the U.S.in an ongoing outbreak. Most people recover from the illness in five to seven days. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure.

The CDC, for its part, says that it hasn't yet identified the type of leafy green involved and that it's investigation is continuing.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued its first announcement about an E coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce on December 11.

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Exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as the source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been determined. There has been one death in California, which was previously reported as connected to the outbreak.

"Whole genome sequencing is being performed on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to give us information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada", the CDC said in a statement.

Both countries' public health officials posted updates on the outbreak today stressing that there is little remaining danger to the public because the most recent victim became sick December 12, 2017. "Without knowing the source, it's hard to know", he said, per NBC News. "For instance, if the equipment at a processing plant is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, new product could become a source of further infections". "You can't taste, smell or see E. coli, which is what makes it so unsafe". Finally, avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

For the record, symptoms of E. coli begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria, notes CNN.

While many people associate E. coli and other foodborne illnesses with meat, in fact they often spread through contaminated produce.

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