Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce

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OTTAWA — North American health officials are investigating a series of recent illnesses from a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria that may be linked to romaine lettuce. There has also been one death reported in Canada due to the outbreak, with at least 40 cases of infection under investigation.

In the U.S., five people have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are advised to consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce, until more is known about the outbreak and the cause of contamination.

In the U.S., government health officials are investigating the outbreaks, but have stopped short of recommending people avoid romaine lettuce or any other food.

Neither the U.S. nor Canadian health officials have provided information on where the romaine lettuce potentially involved in the illnesses was grown or processed.

Individuals who became sick reported eating romaine lettuce at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, restaurants and fast-food chains. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with public health officials to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that provinces in western Canada are affected by this outbreak.

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