Despite the fact that the 24 reported E. coli infections in 15 states across the U.S. are likely connected to leafy greens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend avoiding the food group.
Among the 18 of 24 people who the CDC has information for, one person has died, two people developed a type of kidney failure, nine were hospitalized and all 18 people became ill.
The CDC said they are still investigating the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli outbreak along with the Food and Drug Administration and several states.
In the meantime, the CDC does not recommend avoiding “the likely source of the outbreak,” the agency said in a Jan. 10 update.
“The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill,” the update said. “ ... CDC is not recommending that U.S. residents avoid any particular food given the short shelf life of leafy greens and because a specific type of leafy greens has not been identified.”
Also on Jan. 10, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli had been linked to romaine lettuce. In Canada, there were 42 cases of E. coli infections. Seventeen people were hospitalized and one person died.
Canada had suggested people avoid romaine lettuce, but that advisory has since ended.
“The risk to Canadians has returned to low and the Public Health Agency of Canada is no longer advising individuals in affected provinces to consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce,” the update said.
Both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the CDC said there have been no reported illnesses that began after Dec. 12.
Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC. In severe cases, the infections can become life threatening. The symptoms may not occur for as long as 10 days after you ingest the bacteria.
While anyone can get sick from the bacteria, young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.