As the romaine lettuce outbreak continues across the United States and Canada, experts are warning people to avoid romaine lettuce altogether. The contaminated produce has caused an E. Coli outbreak that has so far infected 58 people. Of the 58 infected, five were hospitalized for serious symptoms, and two have died.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency identified romaine lettuce as the source of the E. coli outbreak but has not yet identified the source of the contaminated produce. “This time of year, most of our lettuce will come from southern places,” Herb Schellhorn, a microbiologist at McMaster University said, “it may be from California or Mexico or other countries that produce romaine lettuce.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised Canadians living in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to avoid romaine lettuce altogether. In the United States, Consumer Reports has advised that despite no formal warnings from U.S. Government health officials, Americans should avoid romaine lettuce as well.
The people who have fallen ill due to the romaine lettuce outbreak have been diagnosed with a particular strain of E. Coli that can be particularly harmful to young children and older adults. The strain of E. coli found in the contaminated produce, known as E. coli O157:H7, can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure and cause death in serious cases.
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