Investigation in e-coli outbreak continues

The latest outbreak of e-coli has affected sixty-two people in sixteen US states. Of these, twenty-five were hospitalised. Additionally, there were a number of cases in Canada, as well as there being a previous outbreak of e-coli in the same year, which affected 210 people.

However, according to the CDC’s website “the outbreak appears to be over”. It’s believed that the outbreak originated from romaine lettuce from California, and began in October last year. Last year, consumers were warned to avoid romaine lettuce as a precautionary measure.

Back in November, health officials discovered that the lettuce causing the outbreak was from “the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California.” Products from this region were recalled, while others were announced as safe to consume.

Subsequently, the source of the outbreak was narrowed down to romaine lettuce from the Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San, Santa Barbara, and Ventura regions. Although, the FDA noted that “no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified”.

Eventually, it was identified that the source was a water reserve near a farm in Santa Barbara County, in California. After finding the source of the bacteria, the CDC advised that all the contaminated batches of lettuce from this particular farm “should no longer be available”. Only three more cases were reported after that point. The last case that was reported was in early December.

The first e-coli outbreak of the year was also caused by lettuce, and was linked to Yuma, Arizona. Health officials have since warned that lettuce can be susceptible to the e-coli virus more than other vegetables. This is due to the fact that it’s not cooked before it’s eaten, unlike other vegetables, for which the e-coli bacteria can be destroyed through heat.

Now, as it seems the illnesses have stopped, the FDA is investigating how the outbreak started; this is part of an ongoing enquiry into the cause of the outbreak, and how it was able to spread.

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