July 5, 2020

Romaine E. coli Outbreak Over in Canada; U.S. Outbreak Continues

The latest romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak has ended in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The outbreak in the U.S. is still ongoing, with at least 59 people sick as of December 14, 2018.

Romaine Lettuce E. coli Outbreak Canada

There have been no illnesses reported in Canada since mid-November, 2018. Officials are no longer advising residents in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick to avoid eating romaine lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine.

Traceback information indicates that the contaminated romaine lettuce was harvested in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. Romaine lettuce grown in Canada, including that grown hydroponically and in greenhouses, is not associated with this outbreak.

There were 29 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in that country linked to romaine lettuce. The case count by province is: Ontario (5), Quebec (20), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). People got sick between mid-October and mid-November 2018. Ten of those patients were hospitalized, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. The patient age range is between 2 and 93 years.

In interviews, most patients sickened in this romaine E. coli outbreak said they ate lettuce the week before they got sick. The patients ate the lettuce at home, in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, and from menu items ordered at fast food chains and restaurants.

The illnesses in this outbreak are genetically related to illnesses reported in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that occurred in December 2017. That suggests there may be a reoccurring source of contamination.

The CFIA is working with the U.S. FDA to try to find the source of the contamination. One farm in California was identified in the U.S. investigation. All products that have been tested by the CFIA have been negative.

Because the outbreak is still ongoing in the United States, officials recommend that Canadians who are traveling to the U.S., or who purchase groceries across the border, follow the CDC’s advice. Read labels on any lettuce product you buy, and make sure it was not grown in the counties in California that have been identified by the CDC.


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