The ongoing multistate Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, growing region has now crossed the U.S. border into Canada.
According to a May 9th public health notice posted by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), six E. coli illnesses have been reported in Canada--all of which have a similar genetic fingerprint to those reported in the U.S. romaine lettuce investigation. Now, PHAC is working with federal and provincial health officials to pinpoint the source of the illnesses.
Two of the sick people in Canada say that they traveled to the U.S. shortly before falling ill. Three individuals got sick in Canada, and details are still pending for the sixth person. PHAC’s notice appears to imply that all of the sick individuals reported eating romaine lettuce before they got sick.
Despite the obvious spread of the outbreak, Canada believes the health risk to Canadians is low, partly because romaine lettuce coming from the Yuma growing region in the U.S. is no longer being produced and distributed, therefore reducing the potential for exposure to contaminated product on the marketplace, given that leafy greens have a shelf-life of 21 days.
Canada’s outbreak investigation continues. PHAC is advising all Canadians to be aware of this ongoing investigation and the U.S. E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. Canadians who are traveling to the U.S., or who shop for groceries across the border and purchase romaine lettuce in the U.S. are advised to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice for U.S. consumers.