Coli outbreak in US: Likely source is leafy greens

Coli outbreak in US: Likely source is leafy greens

In a tweet this week, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA (the agency that would be responsible for issuing any product recall), said that the FDA "will continue to update on the recent E. coli outbreak".

"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 said Wednesday.

Even if the outbreak was caused by lettuce, it's unlikely the perishable product would still be available for sale or in a home refrigerator as the last illness onset date was reported to be December 8, the groups said.

It says the likely source of the US outbreak appears to be leafy greens but they haven't identified which type yet.

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However, neither Canadian authorities nor the CDC have even been able to figure out exactly how people were getting sick; some people ate prepared salads at restaurants, while others likely got sick eating lettuce at home.

In Canada, 42 people were sickened and one person died. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement there was "likely" no longer a concern. "Right now the CDC is saying it could be other leafy greens, but until we have more corroborating evidence, we continue to think it prudent to avoid romaine lettuce for now".

She said American consumers "deserve more than this slow and insufficient response" and that families are "now left wondering if the food they are eating is safe". Thus, CDC is not recommending that USA residents avoid any particular food given the short shelf life of leafy greens and because a specific type of leafy greens has not been identified.

In her letter, the Democrat asked CDC to clarify the coordination between Canada and the US health authorities on the outbreak, and report any information CDC may have on "implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers". Some individuals may develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks. The strain of E. coli involved in this outbreak, O157:H7, is particularly serious.

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If you are concerned that you might have an E. coli infection, talk to your health care provider. There has been one death, which was previously reported.

On Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced it was no longer advising the public against eating romaine lettuce. While the lettuce that may have caused the illnesses is no longer on the market, we do not know where the products were sold, or where the leafy green was grown, harvested, or processed.

While many people associate E. coli and other foodborne illnesses with meat, in fact they often spread through contaminated produce.

For the record, symptoms of E. coli begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria, notes CNN.

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