E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine Lettuce

Lifestyle & Health

December 4, 2018 13:12 By Fabiosa

Food poisoning and infections are not rare even in the 21st century. One of the most common bacteria targeting the gastrointestinal tract is Escherichia coli (E. coli). Although the instances of the infection are not as frequent as to fear an epidemic, the United States and Canada are at risk of an outbreak. The authorities addressed the population of some areas of these countries to refrain from buying and eating romaine lettuce in which E. coli had been found earlier. This is the second outbreak in North America within a year; this infection also affects people in less developed countries.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine Lettucekazoka / Shutterstock.com

There are many strains of the E. coli bacteria, some of which are part of the normal intestinal flora of a human or animal, while others cause poisoning. Like most infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, harmful strains of E. coli enter the body with food and water because of poor hygiene. According to one version, it may have got into the leaf lettuce from contaminated organic fertilizers when the salad was grown.

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E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine LettuceEvgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock.com

Symptoms

Symptoms of E. coli-induced intoxication show on the 1st to 10th day after it enters the body. They include:

  • sudden severe diarrhea;
  • flatulence;
  • general weakness;
  • lack of appetite;
  • high temperature;
  • abdominal cramps;
  • nausea, sometimes vomiting.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine LettuceEmily frost / Shutterstock.com

In severe cases, there may be traces of blood in stool and urine, an infected person may experience dehydration, pale skin, and bruising. People with an weakened immune system are especially at risk, such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women. Some strains of E. coli can affect the hematopoietic function of the body and provoke the development of renal failure.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine Lettucesasha2109 / Shutterstock.com

Causes

The main causes of infection include:

  • consuming contaminated food;
  • improper hygiene and neglecting the rules of heat treatment when cooking;
  • using dirty dishes;
  • consuming foods that haven’t been stored at the right temperature;
  • drinking contaminated water, non-pasteurized milk, or juice;
  • through contact with an infected person who has failed to wash the hands, or an infected animal.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine LettucePoznyakov / Shutterstock.com

When buying vegetables or dairy products, it is difficult to say how safe they are and whether they are infected with Escherichia coli, since only laboratory testing can detect the presence of this bacterium. It is worth remembering that although a thorough washing of your food significantly reduces the risk of infection, it does not guarantee elimination of all bacteria.

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E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine LettucesdaAshTproductions / Shutterstock.com

Canadian scientists have developed an innovative testing program that can detect E. coli in food in just a few hours, rather than weeks. This allows for much earlier detection and can prevent the contaminated food from appearing on the market.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine LettucebugOnchira Wongsiri / Shutterstock.com

Now, it is hard to say whether this program will be applied in other countries or applied at all. In the meantime, the recommendations for minimizing the risk of infection remain the same: wash your hands and food thoroughly, and follow the rules of hygiene when cooking, as well as recommendations for its storage.

E. Coli Warning! Dozens Of People Infected In USA And Canada After Eating Romaine Lettucebugr.classen / Shutterstock.com

In many cases, patients easily recover from this infection on their own. But don’t try your luck and delay a visit to the doctor if the condition doesn’t improve in 2 and 4 days for children and adults respectively, and/or if there are signs of blood or pus in the stool.

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.