Third Outbreak of E. Coli 0157:H7 this Fall Has Been Linked to a Source: Two Other Outbreaks Remain Illusive as CDC and FDA Investigate
Investigations of the third multistate E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak this fall are underway. On November 6, 2020, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) discovered that a random product sample of romaine lettuce tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7. Following this discovery, a whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis showed that the particular strain of E. coli 0157:H7 in this sample is the same that caused illnesses in this outbreak. This strain is also genetically related to two separate multistate outbreaks of Shiga-toxin, which produces E. coli 0157:H7, that the FDA and CDC announced on October 28, 2020.
As explained by an E. coli Lawyer from Ron Simon & Associates,
“Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli, or sometimes “STEC”) are a very large and diverse group of bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of warm blooded animals (predominantly cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, deer, and elk) and humans. The E. coli bacteria do not affect the animals – the animals are merely a carrier for the bacteria. Most E. coli bacteria reside in the lumen of the colon and do not cause human illness in generally healthy individuals; however, some select types are known to cause disease.”
The specific food(s) causing these outbreaks are yet to be identified; however, Tanimura & Antle, Inc. recalled their single head romaine lettuce with a pack date October 15, 2020, and October 16, 2020 due to a possible contamination of E. coli 0157:H7. The FDA and state partners are working with the company to determine if more romaine should be recalled. Consumers should not eat Tanimura & Antle, Inc. single head romaine lettuce with the pack dates of October 15, 2020 and October 16, 2020 and the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9.
The CDC recommends the following practices to avoid E. coli infection: Wash your hands after using the restroom, changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals, cook meats completely, do not cross-contaminate food preparation areas and utensils, wash produce before eating, and avoid unpasteurized dairy and juice products. The CDC also recommends that consumers that develop symptoms of E. coli talk to their healthcare provider, take notes over what they have eaten in the past week, report the illness to the local and/or state health department, and answer public health officials’ questions about their illness. Following these guidelines can help officials determine the origin of the outbreak and stop the contamination.