Coli outbreak in US: Likely source is leafy greens

U.S. Officials Not Ready to Blame E. coli Outbreak on Lettuce

There's new information on the deadly E. coli outbreak that News 10 has been tracking that could be linked to romaine lettuce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are seven new E. coli cases in the an ongoing outbreak.

"The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill", the CDC said Wednesday.

The CDC said that six of the seven new cases occurred within the time frame of all the other reported incidents, between November 15 and December 8.

Exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as the source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been determined. And Consumer Reports recommended that people avoid that leafy green until more information is available.

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in the United States is closely related genetically to the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in Canada.

Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, said it's unclear what steps FDA and CDC are taking in the wake of one of the most serious outbreaks that has occurred in the Trump administration.

CDC and FDA will continue to update the public as more information on the outbreak source is uncovered.

General Manager Dale Huss looks over a field of romaine lettuce with drip lines installed in it at Sea Mist Farms in Castroville Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

The CDC, for its part, says that it hasn't yet identified the type of leafy green involved and that it's investigation is continuing. At least 41 people were sickened in that country, with one death. However, in the United States, state and federal agencies stopped short of making that declaration, stating that the investigation is ongoing. "Without knowing the source, it's hard to know", he said, per NBC News. People usually get sick from E. coli O157:H7 three to four days after eating food contaminated with the germ. The Public Health Agency of Canada began advising people in the five implicated provinces to consider not eating romaine until further notice.

To help prevent E. coli infection, wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing and eating food. Those most at risk for E. coli illness include the very young, very old and individuals with compromised immune systems. It's also important to avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you're interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.