There are reports that fresh produce, likely lettuce, is now suspected to be the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 15 people (as many as 20) in northeastern Canada. There are currently 10 (5 of those pending genetic testing) confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in Nova Scotia, 6 in New Brunswick and 4 in Ontario. Given the time of the year of this outbreak (mid-December) and its short duration, leafy greens are a certainty, and it being a U.S. import highly likely, and from California most likely.
Here is a bite of the historical data linking California leafy greens to E. coli outbreaks in Canada:
In 2006, at least one Canadian resident became ill with an E. coli infection during an outbreak linked to spinach grown in California.
In 2008, 55 residents of Ontario, Canada suffered E. coli infections after eating Romaine lettuce served at local restaurants, and at least 3 Canadians became ill with E. coli infections after eating iceberg lettuce. In both outbreaks, the lettuce was traced back to California growers.
In 2009, at least 4 Ontario residents fell ill with E. coli infections after eating contaminated lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants. Also that year, 12 Canadians became ill during a Salmonella outbreak traced to California lettuce.
In 2012, at least 18 Canadians suffered E. coli infections after eating California-grown Romaine lettuce in April and more were part of an E. coli outbreak traced to a similar product in August.
Food Safety News reports today that at least five people fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Green Township, Ohio, in December. Patients reported initial symptoms between December 10 and 15. Ages of those ill range from 12 to 83 years old.
I wonder if there is a Ohio Canada connection?