June 5, 2020

Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Salad E. coli Outbreak in Canada Updated

The Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp salad E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada has been updated by Public Health Canada. Now, 24 people are sick with E. coli infections in six provinces. An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the U.S., which has sickened 9 people in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota is linked to the same product.

Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Salad E. coli Outbreak in Canada Updated

This outbreak appears to be ongoing. The Fresh Express product has been recalled in Canada, but not in the United States. The genetic fingerprint of the pathogen that is making people sick is similar in both countries, indicating a common source of infection.

Based on the investigation to date, exposure to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad kits has been identified as a likely source of this outbreak. Many of those sickened told investigators they ate that specific product before their illnesses started. Canadians are advised not to eat any of this product sold in 315 gram packages, with UPC number UPC 0 71279 30906 4 and lot code beginning with the letter Z, and best before date up to and including 07DEC19. U.S. residents are also being told to avoid that product with those identifying numbers and dates, even though a specific recall has not been issued.

The case count by provinces is: Ontario (11), Quebec (3), New Brunswick (4), Nova Scotia (4), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Illness onset dates range from November 5, 2019 and November 23, 2019. Six patients have been hospitalized because they are so sick. One person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. The patient age range is from 3 to 73 years.

While a statement by Frank Yiannas, head of the FDA in the United States, has said that romaine is the likely cause of illnesses in this outbreak in the U.S. and two other ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the states, officials in both countries are still investigating to make sure that romaine is the contaminated ingredient. There are other ingredients in the salad kit that could be contaminated.

Two Canadians are also sick in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California region. In the U.S., that outbreak has sickened 102 people and hospitalized 58.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever, some nausea and vomiting, severe and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, bleeding from the nose and mouth, pale skin, and lethargy. Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs to be taken to a doctor immediately because these conditions can be life-threatening.

 

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