One death was attributed to the outbreak of E. coli bacteria in Roman lettuce detected in five Canadian provinces.
TORONTO – The Public Health Agency of Canada announced Thursday night that a total of 30 cases of E. coli contamination are currently under investigation and that one person has died.
It does not specify where the death occurred and gives no other details.
According to the agency, 13 cases were identified in Newfoundland and Labrador, six in Ontario, five in Quebec, five in New Brunswick and one in Nova Scotia.
Contaminated victims who have developed symptoms are between 4 and 80 years old, and 70% of people who have become ill are women.
Public health officials confirm that many of the infected people said they had eaten romaine lettuce before feeling the symptoms.
The authorities are still trying to establish the source of contaminated lettuce.
Symptoms of E. coli contamination include nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, severe stomach cramps, and loose stools that may contain blood.
Most people recover after a few days, but some people can develop serious illnesses that can even lead to death.
WHAT IS E. COLI AND HOW DOES IT GET IN FOOD?
There are hundreds of E. coli and similar bacteria strains in the intestines of humans. Most are harmless, but a few can cause serious problems.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.
The bacteria are associated with animal waste, but aren’t just associated with meat. E. coli can be spread in indirect ways, such as through water or improperly cured compost.
Even if health officials decide onions are the culprit, for example, that doesn’t mean the onion farm is to blame. The E. coli could have been transferred to food transported in a dirty truck or by cross-contamination in a warehouse.
SHOULD I STILL WORRY ABOUT GETTING E. COLI?
If you ate at Chipotle in Washington or Oregon last week, you may not be out of the woods yet.
Health officials say the incubation period is 3 to 7 days from the time of exposure. You may also have had some mild symptoms that you didn’t recognize as being E. coli.
If you ate at Chipotle any time during the past few weeks and experienced intestinal symptoms, health officials want you to go to the doctor and get tested.
Nancy Miller (MD) has over 20 years experience as a educator and health practitioner. She has a B.S. from Lake Head University In Thunder Bay, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Guelph . Dr. Miller has worked as a special medical consultant for a major insurance provider before becoming a freelance health author and public speaker. There are several ways to contact Dr. Miller here.