romaine lettuce recall

Everyone in Toronto is throwing out romaine lettuce

Canadian and American disease control officials are warning everyone with romaine lettuce in their refrigerators to toss it out amidst a severe E. coli outbreak that, strangely, mirrors exactly what happened with the same vegetable around this time last year.

At least 18 people in Ontario and Quebec have fallen seriously ill since mid October after eating romaine at home, in prepared salads from grocery stores and at restaurants: 15 of them in Quebec, three in Ontario, all of them between 5 and 93 years of age.

Another 32 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. Coli across 11 U.S. states, thirteen of whom had to be hospitalized. No deaths have been reported at this time, but that hasn't stopped anyone from freaking out.

The key to not getting sick with E. Coli is easy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

"Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick," the government agency advises.

"This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine," it continues. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away."

The Public Health Agency of Canada issued its own warning for people in Ontario and Quebec on Tuesday, noting that it is working with the CDC to investigate the outbreak and determine its source.

What officials do know already is that this strain of disease (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7) has the same DNA fingerprint as the E.coli strain that plagued leafy greens in the same areas last year.

"The strain in 2017 is the same as the strain in this fall 2018 outbreak, and the time of year is exactly the same," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb to CNN on Tuesday. "So It's likely associated with end of season harvest in California."

People infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, but the generally appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria and include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea

"There is no real treatment for E. coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration through proper hydration and nutrition," says the agency.

Those who develop complications may need further treatment, however, and should contact their health care providers should symptoms persist.

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