April 18, 2024

E. coli Outbreak in Canada: Leafy Greens a Possibility

An E. coli outbreak in Canada has sickened at least 12 people. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a specific product hasn’t been identified as the case of the illnesses, but leafy greens are considered a strong possibility.

Green Salad Dole ListeriaThose sickened live in: Alberta (9), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). The illness onset dates range from March 13 to March 31, 2015. All of those people are sick with E. coli that have a matching genetic fingerprint.

Leafy greens are a possibility and may include kale, spinach, arugula, or chard. Public health officials in Canada are investigating this outbreak and will announce a source when it has been identified.

Whenever there is an outbreak in Canada or the United States, there are sometimes cases in the other country. This was the case in the Bidart Brothers caramel apple Listeria monocytogenes outbreak last fall, and the Salmonella outbreak linked to sprouted chia seeds last year. Whether you live in Canada or the U.S, if you get sick with the symptoms of an E. coli infection, see your doctor immediately.

Those symptoms include stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, vomiting, nausea, a headache, and a mild fever. E. coli infections can cause serious complications and death. Some people, especially children under the age of five, can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), that can lead to kidney failure. And if antibiotics are given to treat an E. coli infection, the risk of HUS increases.

If leafy greens are the vehicle for this pathogenic bacteria, there isn’t much you can do. Always wash greens in cold running water before you eat them, and dry them thoroughly on paper towels to help remove some of the bacteria. Never eat greens that are wilted or less than fresh. And wash your hands thoroughly before you prepare food and before eating.

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