Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Coli Outbreak Tied to Leafy Greens Likely Over, CDC Says

Coli Outbreak Tied to Leafy Greens Likely Over, CDC Says

Today, the Centers for Disease Control added Maryland and New Jersey to the list of 15 states - Florida isn't one of them! - experiencing outbreaks of E. coli from contaminated "leafy greens". In the United States, however, health officials are continuing to investigate an outbreak of 24 STEC O157:H7 infections in 15 states.

The CDC did whole genome sequencing on the bacteria that caused the outbreak and found they were genetically similar to those implicated in a similar outbreak in Canada.

Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source of illness there, but where the greens came from or where they were contaminated is unknown.

"The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill", the CDC reported today. Because leafy greens tend to have a short shelf life-and because the last known illness related to the outbreak occurred last month-it is likely that the contaminated food that's causing illness is no longer available in retail stores or foodservice establishments. CDC should conduct the investigation while providing timely public information, she recommended. Romaine lettuce is mostly eaten raw and washing it or any produce tainted with E. coli will not remove the harmful bacteria.

No common supplier distributor, or retailer of leafy greens has been identified as a possible source of this outbreak.

The CDC continues to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started.

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Since it's better to be safe than sorry, many are advising that you should chuck any romaine lettuce you have lurking in the back of the fridge.

In the US, the FDA, which had not posted any public information about the outbreak until today, is assisting the CDC, but has virtually nothing to report. That's an increase of seven illnesses since the initial report of the outbreak on December 28, 2017.

In her letter, the Democrat asked CDC to clarify the coordination between Canada and the USA health authorities on the outbreak, and report any information CDC may have on "implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers". Because of these reporting delays, more time is needed before CDC can say the outbreak in the United Stated is over.

The outbreak is responsible for 66 infections and two deaths in the two countries. This strain of E. coli can not be neutralized by washing, only by cooking, so if you have any, grill it till it's crispy or toss it.

The CDC suggest paying your doctor a visit if you are going through an episode of severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or if you have a high fever. It urged the public to avoid eating romaine lettuce until more is known about the contamination.

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