CDC Dissociates the E. coli Outbreak with the Romaine Lettuce

CDC has announced that Romaine lettuce is again safe for consumption. Last November, E. coli associated illness was reported in people living in America. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention publicized the contamination of romaine lettuce cultivated in a city of California (Salinas) as the possible cause of this illness.

The individuals infected by E. coli after eating contaminated foods reported symptoms such as vomiting, severe cramps in the stomach, mild fever, and diarrhea (often accompanied by blood). Whereas, these symptoms were mostly experienced a few days after the exposure to affected food.

At that time, Americans were asked to avoid particular food products. But this Wednesday, the CDC has released another statement regarding this matter. According to it, there is no longer the risk of E. coli outbreak associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce. And individuals can again buy or consume lettuce harvested at Salinas’ farms without fear of any associated illness.

This statement suggests that the E. coli outbreak caused by contamination of romaine lettuce seemed to be over. The term E. coli covers a wide range of bacterial strains. Some of them are known for causing illness in humans, while others are considered beneficial for the health of an individual.

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The latter is known to habituate the human intestine and improve immunity, thus lowering the risk of many other diseases. Among the various harmful strains of this bacteria, E. coli O157: H7 causes infection by releasing lethal Shiga toxins that majorly affect the intestinal health and its functions.

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In the United States, ever year, almost 265,000 individuals report illness that is a result of STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli) infections. Though usually patients get recovered within 6 – 8 days, still this infection can be proved as lethal among infants and people with lower immunity.

Besides STEC, there are other strains that are identified for causing respiratory illness, meningitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Leafy greens like romaine lettuce harvested near cattle farms are commonly contaminated by this E. coli, and taking hygienic measures is the best approach to prevent outbreaks caused by this bacteria.

In November, the CDC analyzed the data from 27 different states.

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And it showed that the strain of E. coli O157: H7 had affected 167 individuals. Though death wasn’t reported in any of these individuals, 85 were reported to be hospitalized. Additionally, 15 people were also found to be suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Further analysis by the U.S. FDA has led to another finding. E. coli O157: H7 strains in the patients affected by the current outbreak were identified, and genetic testing was performed on them. Testing revealed that these E. coli O157: H7 strains were quite similar to the ones that were identified in a previous outbreak affecting the population of both the U.S. and Canada in 2017 and 2018.

Currently, the romaine that had led to this outbreak is no longer believed to be available. So, its no longer essential to follow the CDC’s suggestion of avoiding the consumption of romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California.