E. coli outbreak leaves two dead — one in Canada, one in the U.S.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has linked 41 infection cases to romaine lettuce.
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At least two people have died in connection to recent E. coli infections in Canada and the United States.
More than two weeks after Canada’s public health authority warned people in eastern Canada to steer clear of romaine lettuce over E. coli infection concerns, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it’s also investigating outbreaks of a genetically similar bacteria strain.
“Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection,” a Centre for Disease Control spokesperson wrote in a statement to the Star.
The Public Health Agency of Canada first announced its investigation into infections caused by E. coli O157, a serious strain of the bacteria, Dec. 11 after 21 such cases were determined to be “linked” to romaine lettuce in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The agency is now reporting 41 cases of E. coli infection, extending to Ontario and Nova Scotia.
People with E. coli infections usually recover after a few days, the public health authority says, but in rare cases it can be more serious, or even fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 17 cases of E. coli infection across 13 U.S. states, dating as early as Nov. 15 last year.
While the cases extend coast-to-coast, from California to New Hampshire, the bulk of the U.S. instances of the infection were in the northeast part of the country.
Of the 17 U.S. cases, five people have been hospitalized, one of whom has died. Two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, which Canada’s public health authority calls a rare life-threatening symptom of E. coli infection.
The CDC has not yet determined whether the people sick with E. coli infection in that country have a type of food in common, but Canada has linked the cases in this country to romaine lettuce.
“Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as the source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been identified,” a government of Canada public health notice reads.
No recall has been issued in Canada or the U.S. The grocery chain Sobeys voluntarily pulled romaine lettuce off its shelves last week while the public health investigation continues.