Seventeen cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in 13 states leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate whether there is a common food item among the ill individuals.
Five people have been hospitalized in the US due to the infection and 2 of these patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome; 1 patient has died.
A similar outbreak of STEC O157:H7 has occurred in Canada; the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has pinpointed romaine lettuce as the source. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is currently trying to find the exact source of romaine lettuce.
The CDC said their preliminary findings show the E. coli type in both the US and Canada is “closely related genetically.” In Canada, the total number of infections is at 41, with 1 death and 17 hospitalizations.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to find common lettuce brands or common stores,” Ian Williams, chief of the CDC’s Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, told CNN. “The trace-back information is always challenging too, because contamination can happen any place from the farm to the processing facility to the store.”
The CDC said the US cases occurred on November 15 through December 8, 2017, a similar time period to the cases in Canada.
CDC investigating multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections [media statement]. U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. December 28, 2017. Accessible at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/s1228-e-coli-outbreak.html
This article originally appeared on MPR