More cases in E. coli outbreak

On January 10, 2018, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) they had identified was linked to romaine lettuce appears to be over.

The outbreak of E. coli has made at least 17 people sick in 13 states, including a case in OH, according to the CDC. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure, notes CNN, and there has been one death.

Even if the outbreak was caused by lettuce, it's unlikely the perishable product would still be available for sale or in a home refrigerator as the last illness onset date was reported to be December 8, the groups said. "Canada has identified the source as romaine lettuce", says Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. One of those people died. However, an eerily similar outbreak in the U.S.is still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CDC should conduct the investigation while providing timely public information, she recommended.

Romaine lettuce has a shelf life of about a few days to more than a week.

On the same day, CDC announced the E. coli strains appeared related but would not identify a source of the infections. However, the CDC noted that people who got sick during this outbreak "were not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine lettuce". Most people recover from the illness in five to seven days but some develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be fatal. In the United States, there are 24 confirmed victims across 15 states. If you are concerned that you have an E. coli infection, talk to your healthcare provider. Additionally, it's important to wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods.

In all, 42 people, from five provinces, became ill, according to Public Health Agency Canada. Finally, avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea. Rinsing produce with cool water is a good way to protect against any bacteria lingering on the surface - though not a surefire solution to product contamination.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you're interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

"In collaboration with our association colleagues we'd like to share the following update to last week's communications regarding the E. coli O157:H7 foodborne illness outbreak that has impacted many (of our) members", the produce groups' release said.

  • Delores Daniels