Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Deaths From E. Coli Tainted Lettuce

The fatal illness was caused by romaine lettuces also called cos lettuces grown in Arizona but investigators can't Deaths From E. Coli Tainted Lettuce
Samantha Long | 06 June, 2018, 05:15

On June 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced via a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update that a total of five deaths have been attributed to the multistate E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, growing region. Lettuce contaminated with E. coli was found to come from farms in the Yuma, Ariz., area, but farms in other parts of the country like the Richter's were not affected.

Of the total 187 patients for whom information was available, 89 (or 48 per cent) were hospitalised, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Leading with the most outbreaks is California, with a reported 45 cases.

Two of the victims are from Minnesota, with the others being from New York, California and Arkansas.

Canada's Public Health Agency has also reported six cases of E coli with a "similar genetic fingerprint" to that found in the USA infections. Two of the six told officials that they had traveled across the border before they became ill. Three became infected in Canada.

Officials say the people who became ill ate the tainted romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region when it was likely still available in grocery stores and restaurants.

Because a majority of the illnesses were linked to packaged vegetables that had been passed from suppliers to distributors to processing facilities where they were chopped and bagged, finding out where they were grown is far more cumbersome.

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"It's a labor-intensive task", said the FDA in a recent statement.

Numerous new cases were people who became ill two to three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce was still being sold.

Eighty-nine per cent of the 158 people interviewed reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they fell ill. Most E. coli cases are relatively mild, but certain cases can deteriorate, causing death in the most extreme circumstances.

To avoid E. coli infections, experts advise thoroughly cooking meat, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and juices, avoiding swallowing water while swimming and washing hands regularly.

Health officials said children under the age of 5, seniors older than 65 and those with weak immune systems are most vulnerable.

Gottlieb and Ostroff said the FDA is working to track the source of this outbreak, but is so far coming up with very little.

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