Since November 22, 2019, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified one additional E. coli illness in Canada with a similar genetic fingerprint to illnesses reported in the ongoing United States (U.S.) E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California which has sickened at least 102 people in 23 states
As of December 6, 2019, there are two illnesses related to the U.S. outbreak that have been identified in Canada: Manitoba (1) and Alberta (1). These individuals became ill in mid-October and early November 2019. One individual was hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
PHAC has engaged federal and provincial public health partners and continues to work with U.S. health officials to determine the source of contamination affecting consumers.
Consumers are still advised to not eat, and retailers and foodservice establishments to not sell or serve, any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California growing region in the U.S. Romaine lettuce harvested in Canada are not affected by this advice.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial partners, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), and U.S health officials to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157, commonly called E. coli, that is linked to romaine lettuce coming from the Salinas, California growing region in the United States (U.S.). E. coli can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses.
The majority of illnesses have been reported in the U.S., but the Public Health Agency of Canada has identified a second Canadian illness with a similar genetic fingerprint to illnesses reported in the U.S. investigation. As a result, a Canadian outbreak investigation has been initiated to further investigate the two illnesses reported in Canada.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) previously confirmed that romaine lettuce from the affected areas reported in the U.S. investigation was imported to Canada up until November 22, 2019. The CFIA has taken measures to protect consumers and has implemented new actions at the border to ensure that any affected romaine lettuce products from Salinas, California are no longer being imported into Canada.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to advise consumers to not eat, and retailers and foodservice establishments to not sell or serve, any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California growing region in the U.S. Romaine lettuce harvested in Canada is not affected by this advice.
This is the fourth E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce affecting Canadian consumers in the last two years. The Government of Canada, along with provincial and territorial governments and regional public health units, remains vigilant in its efforts to monitor for any new E. coli illnesses linked to romaine lettuce. If future risks are identified, the Public Health Agency of Canada and its partners will take the necessary steps to notify Canadians of any increased risk to their health and to provide updated advice on how to prevent illness.
The U.S. CDC continues to report multiple illnesses occurring in several U.S. states. Laboratory analysis indicates that the illnesses reported in Canada are genetically related to illnesses reported in the U.S. and to previous E. coli outbreaks that occurred in 2017 and 2018 and were linked to romaine lettuce. This suggests that there may be a reoccurring source of contamination. Canadian and U.S. health officials are collaborating to identify commonalities between the recent illnesses in an effort to identify the source of contamination affecting consumers.
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