2018-01-10 / Health

E. coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

National food safety agencies are warning against eating romaine lettuce after 58 people in the U.S. and Canada fell ill from a strain of E. coli bacteria linked to the popular salad ingredient, authorities said.

In the U.S., one person has died, and five people have been hospitalized since November. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Agency of Canada are asking consumers to consider an alternative to the food.

There have been infections in at least 13 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state), according to the CDC.

In Canada, there are now a total of 41 linked cases under investigation, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

There continues to be a risk of E. coli infections associated with consuming the product, the Canadian agency said.

The strain of E. coli produces a toxin that can lead to severe illness, kidney failure and even death.

Food poisoning symptoms

Getting food poisoning may not happen right away – it depends on the bacteria. A burger with E. coli could bring you down a week after you eat it. Listeria can sometimes make you sick a month after you eat tainted food, according to Consumer Reports.

Food poisoning and a stomach illness have similar symptoms, but food poisoning will not last as long but be more intense.

Symptoms include stomach cramps, abdominal pain, multiple trips to the bathroom for diarrhea or even vomiting.

To start feeling human again, stay hydrated. That means water or something with electrolytes like Pedialyte – not coffee, tea or soda.

You may want to ride out diarrhea, and not reach for the over-the-counter medications, according to Consumer Reports. Those medications will keep the bug in your system longer, so sometimes its best to let it run its course as quickly as possible.

Don’t use anti-diarrheal medication if your stool is bloody or you have a fever of 101.5 F or higher. In fact, if you have a high fever, bloody diarrhea, vomiting so much you can’t keep liquids down, and dehydration symptoms (you’re not urinating, dry mouth, extreme thirst, and dizziness) go see a doctor.

While anyone can get sick from the strain, it is likely to infect young children and the elderly, according to Consumer Reports.

For more information on foodborne illnesses and symptons, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports.

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