"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".
In December, the North Bay Health Unit said two cases had been reported in its area. There has also been one death reported in Canada.
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The CDC and Food and Drug Administration in the US are investigating the E. coli infections in the USA, but have not gone as far as to recommend that people in the US avoid a particular food.
"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", says Dr. James Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety and tesearch at Consumer Reports.
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During the past seven weeks, 58 people in the US and Canada have become ill from the strain of E. coli O157: H7.
"It is hard to know whether a product is contaminated with E. coli because you can't see, smell or taste it. Romaine lettuce can have a shelf life of up to five weeks; therefore it is possible that contaminated romaine lettuce purchased over the past few weeks may still be in your home". As such, this is also the primary suspect when trying to pinpoint the source of the United States case. State and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in a week before their illness started.
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However, on its website, it said, "We have not identified a source of the infections, thus is unable to recommend whether United States residents should avoid a particular food". Officials chose to test romaine lettuce too, just to be sure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported five people in the US have been hospitalized and one person has died. "Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador should consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce, until more is known about the outbreak and the cause of contamination".
Most produce need to be cooked before they are eaten. Agency officials stated that they need to investigate more in order and be sure before they blame a particular product for the outbreak.
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