May 29, 2024

E. coli O157 Outbreak in Canada Linked to Romaine Lettuce Grows to 40 Sick

The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an E. coli O157 outbreak in five provinces. As of December 21, 2017, 40 people are sick in this outbreak, which is linked to the consumption of romaine lettuce. Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are advised to avoid romaine lettuce until more is known about this outbreak and the cause of contamination.

Romaine Lettuce CA

This outbreak is ongoing, as illnesses linked to romaine lettuce continue to be reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Officials think that contaminated lettuce may still be on the market, including in restaurants, grocery stores, and any establishments that serve food. This product has a shelf life up to 5 weeks. There is a risk of E. coli infections associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce.

There are currently 40 people sick. The case count by province is:  Ontario (8), Quebec (13), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Individuals became sick in November and early December 2017. Sixteen patients have been hospitalized. One individual has died. People who got sick are between the ages of 4 and 85 years of age. Most patients (73%) are female.

Most of these patients reported eating romaine lettuce before they got sick. They ate the product at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, restaurants, and fast food chains.

This strain of E. coli O157 can cause serious illness. People who are most at risk for illness and complications include pregnant women, young children, older adults, and pregnant women.

To help prevent illness if you do choose to eat romaine lettuce at this time, discard the outer leaves, wash unpackaged lettuce under fresh, cool, running water. Keep rinsing the lettuce until all dirt is removed. Don’t soak lettuce in a sink of water; it can get contaminated by bacteria in the sink. Always store lettuce in the fridge, up to 7 days. And ready-to-eat lettuce product that are sold in sealed packages and labeled as washed, do not need to be washed again.

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