7 new E. coli cases; continue avoiding romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration said its outbreak investigation team is working with CDC and state and local officials to determine what ill people ate, where they bought it and the distribution chain - all with the goal of learning where these foods were produced, to see if there is any common food or point where the food might have become contaminated.

An FDA spokesperson later confirmed this position to Consumer Reports: "This work is ongoing".

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

Consumer Reports still warns against eating romaine. Some individuals may develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks.

This does not sit well with DeLauro who asked Fitzgerald a series of questions, such as when the first E. coli infection was reported in the USA, when CDC began investigating the outbreak, and what is "CDC's justification for waiting nearly a month and a half before publicly confirming the outbreak?"

In a news release issued earlier on Wednesday, the CDC said the "likely source" of the outbreak in the USA appeared to be "leafy greens", but unlike in Canada, officials had not identified a specific type. Consumer Reports advised people to continue to avoid romaine lettuce.

CDC and FDA will continue to update the public as more information on the outbreak source is uncovered. The five hospitalized are in the United States with the one death in the USA and one in Canada.

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Right now the CDC says it doesn't want to act too soon and blame one particular crop because if they're wrong that could leave people at risk in case it turns out something else is spreading the bacteria.

It says the likely source of the US outbreak appears to be leafy greens but they haven't identified which type yet.

Although the most recent illness started on December 12, there is a delay between when someone gets sick and when the illness is reported to CDC.

The outbreak is responsible for 66 infections and two deaths in the two countries. The outbreak has now been identified in 15 states. Holidays can increase this delay.

To protect against E. coli infection, health officials say people should thoroughly wash their hands, as well as counters, cutting boards and utensils.

Symptoms of E. coli typically begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria. It's also important to avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

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