October 6, 2022

History of Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreaks is Long

With the recent Wendy's E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak in the news, how many of these types of outbreaks have been linked to romaine lettuce in the past? Quite a few. This is a look back at the history of romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks. During the pandemic in the years 2020 to 2021, there were many E. coli outbreaks that were not solved, although a few were allegedly linked to romaine. They include three outbreaks in 2020. It was unusual that last year there were no E. coli O157:H outbreaks linked to romaine, since that history is lengthy. However, there were five food poisoning outbreaks linked to packaged leafy greens in 2021, but not specifically E. coli O157:H7. Recent Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreaks The first is the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that may be linked … [Read more...]

Wendy’s Romaine E. coli Outbreak Case Count Rises to 97

The Wendy's romaine E. coli outbreak case count has risen to include at least 97 sick in six states, with 43 hospitalized. Ten people are suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is an increase of 13 new illnesses, five new hospitalizations, two more with HUS, and two new states: New York and Kentucky. The patient case count by state is: Indiana (11), Kentucky (1), Michigan (58), New York (1), Ohio (24), and Pennsylvania (2). Illness onset dates range from July 25, 2022 to August 15, 2022. The patient age range is from 3 to 94 years. Of 81 people who gave information about their health to investigators, 43, or 53%, have been hospitalized, which is a very high hospitalization … [Read more...]

How Many in Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak? Depends on Who You Ask

How many sick in Wendy's E. coli outbreak? It depends on who you ask. According to the CDC, there are 37 people sick with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 as of August 18, 2022. But if you add in the number of confirmed cases according to the Michigan Department of Health, there are 43, not 15 that the CDC counts. And officials in Wood County, Ohio state that there are 22 people sick in that county alone with seven hospitalizations, although only nine have been confirmed as the outbreak strain. The state of Ohio says there are 19 total sick in that state, with seven in Wood county, but 12 in seven other counties. And there are patients in Indiana and Pennsylvania. This type of disparity is fairly common in the early stages of an investigation. And the Centers for Disease … [Read more...]

Wendy’s Michigan E. coli Outbreak Grows to 43 Sick, 24 in Hospital

The Wendy's Michigan E. coli outbreak has grown to include 43 people sickened and at least 24 hospitalized. Four people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a complication of this infection. The CDC total for the state is currently just 15, so this is a dramatic case count increase. The case count includes patients from these counties: Allegan, Branch, Clinton, Genesee, Gratiot, Jackson, Kent, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ogemaw, Ottawa, Saginaw, Washtenaw, and Wayne. The city of Detroit is also included. The patient age range is from 6 to 94 years. Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director of public health administration at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in as statement, "We are reminding … [Read more...]

History of Fast Food E. coli Outbreaks is Long and Complicated

There is a mystery E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in Michigan and Ohio. After days of counties reporting the illnesses, the CDC got involved in the investigation yesterday. At least 29 people in those states are sick, and nine patients have been hospitalized. What could be causing this outbreak? We started thinking about the history of fast food E. coli outbreaks over the years. Unfortunately, outbreaks and fast food restaurants are a fairly common combination. There have been many Salmonella, E. coli, and cyclospora outbreaks associated with those restaurants. The main fast food restaurant chains in this country include Wendy's, McDonald's, Jimmy John's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, and Hardees, among others. These are the E. coli outbreaks linked to fast food … [Read more...]

Fall Harvested Romaine More Likely to Cause E. coli Outbreaks

Agricultural Research Scientists have found that fall harvested romaine is more likely to contain more E. coli bacteria and cause more outbreaks, according to the USDA. Between 1998 and 2019, there were 36 outbreaks traced back to lettuce, particularly romaine lettuce, that was harvested in the fall on the California Central Coast, and in late winter in Southern California and Arizona. The seasonal outbreaks are more frequently associated with commercially grown lettuce harvested at the end of the growing season. The question is why. ARS microbiologist Maria Brand, leader of the study, said in a statement, "To begin unravelling the causes of these seasonal outbreaks, our research team looked at various factors to identify conditions that may increase E. coli┬ásurvival on fresh-cut … [Read more...]

Same E. coli Strain Linked to 4 Outbreaks and 8 Deaths 2018- 2021

This week, the CDC announced the end of a deadly leafy greens E. coli outbreak. And revealed that it was caused by the same strain as the deadly outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ in 2018. This is the fourth multistate outbreak linked to this E. coli O157:H7 strain since 2018. All of them have included at least one fatality. Two of them occurred in 2021. Together these four outbreaks resulted in 274 illnesses, 126 hospitalizations, 33 cases of a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and eight deaths. Leafy greens were identified as the source of two of the outbreaks. For the other two, which occurred in 2020 and 2021, the source was declared as "unknown." Like the 2018 outbreak, some of the greens linked to the outbreak that ended this … [Read more...]

New Romaine E. coli Outbreak Over As It’s Announced

A new romaine E. coli outbreak is over as soon as it's announced on the FDA's CORE Investigation Outbreak Table. Four people are sickened. The investigation into the outbreak, however, is still considered active. We do not know where the ill persons live, the patient age range, or if anyone has been hospitalized or has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. The FDA's statement reads, "The outbreak of four illnesses of E. coli O121:H19 (reference# 1050) has been linked to romaine lettuce. The information collected over the course of this investigation indicated that romaine lettuce was the likely source of this outbreak; however, it appears that this outbreak is over, and there is no actionable advice for consumers. FDA has been conducting a traceback … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes Agricultural Water Safety Rule For Use on Produce

There have been multiple E. coli outbreaks linked to fresh produce, especially leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, in the past few years. In several of those outbreaks, agricultural water has been implicated as the source of that pathogen. So the FDA has proposed a new agricultural water safety rule for use on produce. The rule would require farms to conduct comprehensive assessments that will help them identify and mitigate hazards in water that is used to grow produce. This is the latest step in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed rule will replace some of the existing requirements for agricultural water in the Produce Safety Rule. Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response said in a statement, "There … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Results of Romaine Lettuce Sampling Assignment

The FDA has released results of their┬áromaine lettuce sampling assignment, which was instituted after years of Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) outbreaks linked to that product. The FDA did not detect any pathogens during the assignment. Unfortunately, this is not unusual and doesn't mean that there will not be any more outbreaks linked to romaine or leafy greens. Contamination can be spotty and can vary with weather conditions and the presence of animals in the field. Furthermore, it's impossible to sample every leaf of romaine lettuce. E. coli bacteria tend to clump in small amounts and can be difficult to detect. It only takes 10 of these bacteria to make someone sick. And one head of contaminated lettuce can contaminate many bags of prepared lettuce. In fact, the study … [Read more...]

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