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Food and Drug Administration, are investigating reports of E. coli illnesses in 13 states possibly linked to romaine lettuce or other leafy greens, according to a statement issued by the CDC.
The CDC statement said it was investigating the outbreak and had not definitively linked it to romaine. However, the type of E. coli making people ill resembles that linked to a similar recent outbreak in Canada, where the Public Health Agency of Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source, the CDC said. The statement did not specify where the lettuce may have originated.
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“CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine,” the agency said in its Dec. 28 statement. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.”
The CDC had not issued an updated statement as of Friday night.
States where the E. coli had been linked to people falling ill included California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.
The incidents occurred between Nov. 15 and Dec. 8, the CDC said. In all, 17 cases were confirmed, the most in California, with three, during the period, the CDC said.
When this type of E. coli, the Shiga toxin producing identified as E. coli O157:H7, is consumed through contaminated food, individuals usually become sick within one to three days. Symptoms include diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramping. Elderly individuals and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of getting sick if infected with E. coli, an intestinal bacteria found in animal or human feces.
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The food safety experts at Consumer Reports are advising consumers to avoid romaine all together and any products with romaine in them such as salad blends and mixes until the cause is found, identified and removed from store shelves.
In Canada, 17 individuals were hospitalized and one has died. Those who became sick reported eating romaine at home, in prepared salads from grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains.