E. Coli Investigation – Romaine Lettuce
A recall of romaine lettuce that has sickened students with E. coli poisoning is expanding as the government tries to find out where the contamination occurred.
“Multiple lines of evidence have implicated shredded romaine lettuce from one processing facility as a source of infection in this outbreak. This evidence includes the identification of E. coli O145 from an unopened package of shredded romaine lettuce obtained from a facility associated with the outbreak. DNA testing to confirm the link to ill persons is pending at this time. The lettuce processing company has issued a recall of lettuce produced at their facility as a result of the evidence obtained to date.
This investigation is ongoing. At this time, local, state, and federal health officials are involved in many different types of investigative activities including:
- Conducting surveillance for additional illnesses that could be related to the outbreak.
- Conducting epidemiologic studies that includes gathering detailed information from persons who were ill persons (cases) and from healthy persons (controls) about foods recently eaten and other exposures.
- Gathering and testing food products that are suspected as potential sources of infection to see if they are contaminated with bacteria.
- Following any epidemiologic leads gathered from interviews with patients, food purchase information, or from patterns of processing, production and/or distribution of suspected products.
- FDA is working closely with its state partners in the investigations at the food processor and at the farm level to determine where in the distribution chain the point of contamination likely occurred.
Public health and agriculture officials in Michigan, New York, and Ohio, along with CDC and FDA, are actively engaged in this investigation. Updates on the progress of this investigation will be shared as information becomes available.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
At least 19 people have been sickened in connection with the E. coli outbreaks, which come from a rare strain of the disease that is difficult to diagnose. Officials at the CDC say they are looking at an additional 10 probable cases of E. coli poisoning from tainted lettuce.