218 sick

28 with hemolytic uremic syndrome

5 deaths

In 2018 in the United Sates, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157 were reported from 36 states. 96 people were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). 5 deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York. In Canada, 8 cases of E. coli O157 that were genetically similar to the U.S. outbreak linked to romaine lettuce coming from the Yuma growing region in the U.S. The 8 Canadian illnesses were reported in 5 provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. 1 of the Canadian cases was hospitalized with HUS and no deaths were reported in Canada.

Health officials in both Canada and the U.S. have worked hard to do the hard epidemiological and environmental investigations that lead to traceback and root cause analysis that lead to new ways of preventing these tragedies for the consumers and the producers.  However, the hard work is essentially done in obscurity with little or no transparency.  Through the litigation process we are cracking open the door so the public can see both where product was grown (more to come on that in the coming weeks) and were the product was sold.

Because of the lack of transparency on behalf of investigators we have to do it through litigation.  Here is where the FDA is to date:

Here is where we are to date:

Here are some helpful documents from the FDA and CDC – romaine2 – romaine5 – Ecoli O157 1804MLEXH-1 06272018-2

And, the CAFO is still in Yuma:

218 sick

28 with hemolytic uremic syndrome

5 deaths

In 2018 in the United Sates, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157 were reported from 36 states. 96 people were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). 5 deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York. In Canada, 8 cases of E. coli O157 that were genetically similar to the U.S. outbreak linked to romaine lettuce coming from the Yuma growing region in the U.S. The 8 Canadian illnesses were reported in 5 provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. 1 of the Canadian cases was hospitalized with HUS and no deaths were reported in Canada.

Health officials in both Canada and the U.S. have worked hard to do the hard epidemiological and environmental investigations that lead to traceback and root cause analysis that lead to new ways of preventing these tragedies for the consumers and the producers.  However, the hard work is essentially done in obscurity with little or no transparency.  Through the litigation process we are cracking open the door so the public can see both where product was grown (more to come on that in the coming weeks) and were the product was sold.

CDC

FDA

We have a romaine E. coli case in Idaho of a young man who suffered a severe case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), was hospitalized for a month and incurred nearly $250,000 in medical expenses and lost wages.  He has a risk of future kidney complications (including a transplant), but not likely to meet the legal standard of more likely than not – greater than 50%.  He did suffer seizures because of the HUS, but it is well maintained on medications, and it is hopeful, over time, that he may well be weaned off the medications and be able to drive again.  Under Idaho law he will be able to recover wage loss and medical expenses (economic damages) and a capped amount for nonmonetary losses (pain and suffering) – Well, unless a court and a jury determines that it is “reckless misconduct” to grow, process and sell romaine lettuce.

Sometimes bad facts make good law – recall the lawsuit against the auditor in the Jensen Farms Listeria cantaloupe case?

Idaho Code § 6-1603 established in 2003 a cap of $250,000.00 for noneconomic damages, damages that are subjective, nonmonetary losses including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement incurred by the injured party; emotional distress; loss of society and companionship; loss of consortium; or destruction or impairment of the parent-child relationship. Idaho Code § 6-1603(1) also provides for an annual adjustment tied to the increase or decrease of the annual wage; for 2018, the effective cap was established at $357,210.62.

The full text of the statute reads as follows:

6-1603.  LIMITATION ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES. (1) In no action seeking damages for personal injury, including death, shall a judgment for noneconomic damages be entered for a claimant exceeding the maximum amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000); provided, however, that beginning on July 1, 2004, and each July 1 thereafter, the cap on noneconomic damages established in this section shall increase or decrease in accordance with the percentage amount of increase or decrease by which the Idaho industrial commission adjusts the average annual wage as computed pursuant to section 72-409(2), Idaho Code.

(2)  The limitation contained in this section applies to the sum of: (a) noneconomic damages sustained by a claimant who incurred personal injury or who is asserting a wrongful death; (b) noneconomic damages sustained by a claimant, regardless of the number of persons responsible for the damages or the number of actions filed.

(3)  If a case is tried to a jury, the jury shall not be informed of the limitation contained in subsection (1) of this section.

(4)  The limitation of awards of noneconomic damages shall not apply to:

(a)  Causes of action arising out of willful or reckless misconduct.

(b)  Causes of action arising out of an act or acts which the trier of fact finds beyond a reasonable doubt would constitute a felony under state or federal law.

Setting aside the fairness of capping noneconomic damages at $357,210.62 for a case as serious as this one, the real issue is whether the cap applies at all under section (4)(a) above?  In 2018 was it “reckless misconduct” to grow, process, source and sell romaine lettuce from Yuma?

Certainly, as well cited above, leafy greens have been a source of E. coli-related illnesses for decades, and there have been concerns raised about lettuce grown in the Yuma region.  The CDC reports as of May 20, 2010, a total of 26 confirmed and 7 probable cases related to an E. coli O145 outbreak have been reported from 5 states since March 1, 2010 linked to shredded romaine grown in Yuma.[1] In the FDA’s “Environmental Assessment Report in December 2010,” the authors determined:

that the R.V. park is a reasonably likely potential source of the outbreak pathogen based upon the evidence of direct drainage into the lateral irrigation canal; the moist soil in this drainage area; the multiple sewage leach systems on the property; the presence of other STEC found in the lateral irrigation canal and in the growing fields of the suspect farm; and the fact that the section of the lateral canal downstream from the R.V. park supplies water to only one other farm in addition to the suspect farm.

Two pumps are located on the main Wellton canal near the lateral canal split that supplies water to fields of the suspect farm; one gasoline powered pump on a trailer and one permanent electric pump with an attached hose. The electric pump supplies canal water to an attached open-end hose. The site is not secured from vehicles and the hose pump is also unsecured. At the time of this investigation there were people living in recreational vehicles on undeveloped land within one mile of the hose pump. The fact that this area is open to vehicles and the pump and hose are unsecured make it possible for an R.V. owner to dump and rinse out their R.V. septic system into the main Wellton canal at the lateral canal split that supplies the farm. The ground near the hose pump shows erosion evidence of drainage into the Wellton canal. Soil collected from this erosion site tested positive for other Stx2-producing STEC but did not match the outbreak strain.

In a 2009 “Survey of Selected Bacteria in Irrigation Canal Water – Third Year” written by Jorge M. Fonseca, he correctly predicted the human and industry problems that were likely to plague the Yuma lettuce growers:

Despite the fact that no Arizona lettuce grower has been involved in any contaminated-lettuce outbreak, it is of paramount importance to determine the reasons why Arizona lettuce is regarded as safe. This can help lower possibilities of any emerging problem and prevent a catastrophic damage to the industry, as it has occurred in other regions when no control was taken to reduce risks of contaminated product.

A PowerPoint done by Dr. Fonseca again illustrated the varying risks of lettuce production in Yuma.  An example of a few of his points of concern:

And, then the 2018 romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak struck, sickening hundreds in the United States and Canada with dozens suffering from acute kidney failure with five reported deaths.  Once again, the Wellton Irrigation Canal was the focus of attention in the “Memorandum to File on the 2018 Environmental Assessment”:

During this EA, three samples of irrigation canal water collected by the team were found to contain E coli O157:H7 with the same rare molecular fingerprint (using whole genome sequencing (WGS)) as the strain that produced human illnesses (the outbreak strain). These samples were collected from an approximate 3.5-mile stretch of an irrigation canal in the Wellton area of Yuma County that delivers water to several of the farms identified in the traceback investigation as shipping romaine lettuce that was potentially contaminated with the outbreak strain. The outbreak strain was not identified in any of the other samples collected during this EA, although other pathogens of public health significance were detected.

 

Not surprisingly, the FDA in its full “Environmental Assessment of Factors Potentially Contributing to the Contamination of Romaine Lettuce Implicated in a Multi-State Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7,”[2] concluded that the risk of environmental contamination was in fact a well-know and long-standing risk:

Food safety problems related to raw whole and fresh-cut (e.g., bagged salad) leafy greens are a longstanding issue. As far back as 2004, FDA issued letters to the leafy greens industry to express concerns about continuing outbreaks associated with these commodities. FDA and our partners at CDC identified 28 foodborne illness outbreaks of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) with a confirmed or suspected link to leafy greens in the United States between 2009 and 2017. This is a time frame that followed industry implementation of measures to address safety concerns after a large 2006 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 caused by bagged spinach. STEC contamination of leafy greens has been identified by traceback to most likely occur in the farm environment.

Contamination occurring in the farm environment may be amplified during fresh-cut produce manufacturing/processing if appropriate preventive controls are not in place. Unlike other foodborne pathogens, STEC, including E. coli O157:H7, is not considered to be an environmental contaminant in fresh-cut produce manufacturing/processing plants.

Well-established reservoirs for E. coli O157:H7 are the intestinal tract of ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, goats, and deer) that are colonized with STEC and shed the organism in manure. Ruminant animals colonized with STEC typically have no symptoms. In contrast, human infection with E. coli O157:H7 usually produces symptomatic illness often marked by severe, often bloody, diarrhea; severe adverse health outcomes or even death can result. Humans shed E. coli O157:H7 in the stool while ill and sometimes for short periods after symptoms have gone away, but humans are not chronic carriers. Various fresh water sources, including municipal well, and recreational water, have been the source of E. coli O157:H7 infections in humans, as has contact with colonized animals at farms or petting zoos. However, most E. coli O157:H7 infections in humans occur from consuming contaminated food.

In its summary of its environmental findings (also summarized in a November 1, 2018 to public officials) the “FDA [in part] identified the following factors and findings as those that most likely contributed to the contamination of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region with E. coli O157:H7 that caused this outbreak”:

  • FDA has concluded that the water from the irrigation canal where the outbreak strain was found most likely led to contamination of the romaine lettuce consumed during this outbreak.
  • There are several ways that irrigation canal water may have come in contact with the implicated romaine lettuce including direct application to the crop and/or use of irrigation canal water to dilute crop protection chemicals applied to the lettuce crop, either through aerial or ground-based spray applications.
  • How and when the irrigation canal became contaminated with the outbreak strain is unknown. A large animal feeding operation is nearby but no obvious route for contamination from this facility to the irrigation canal was identified. Other explanations are possible although the EA team found no evidence to support them.

Idaho Code Section 6-1603(4)(a) states that the statutory limit on non-economic damages in tort actions seeking damages for personal injury or death does not apply in cases where the cause of action arises “out of willful or reckless misconduct.” Idaho Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 2.25 provides the definition of “willful and wanton,” and notes that there is no distinction between “reckless” and “willful and wanton.” Hennefer v. Blaine County Sch. Dist. 61 158 Idaho 242, 248 (2015). According to the IDJI, “[t]he words ‘willful and wanton’…mean more than ordinary negligence. The words mean intentional or reckless actions, taken under circumstances where the actor knew or should have known that the actions not only created an unreasonable risk of harm to another, but involved a high degree of probability that such harm would actually result.” IDJI 2.25

While Idaho considers reckless or willful misconduct “simply a degree of negligence…that involves both intentional conduct and knowledge of a substantial risk of harm,” its courts have further elaborated that while “use of the words ‘intentional’ and ‘knowledge’ might indicate a purely subjective standard for recklessness…there is an objective element to the recklessness standard.” Hennefer 158 Idaho at 248.  Thus, while reckless misconduct can consist of a conscious choice of a course of action with knowledge of the serious danger to others, (subjective), it can also consist of a conscious choice of a course of action with knowledge of facts that would disclose the danger to any reasonable man (objective). Id. The serious danger mentioned in the standard is one that “involves a risk substantially greater in amount than that which is necessary to make the conduct negligent.” Id. Accordingly, a jury need only find that a defendant should have known that his actions created a high probability that harm would actually result; such a finding is considered sufficient to meet the standard espoused by Idaho Code section 6-1603. Id. at 249.

Using this standard, there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that growing, processing, sourcing, and selling romaine lettuce from Yuma constituted reckless misconduct. It is widely known that STEC infections are life-threatening to humans and the most common cause of infection is consumption of contaminated food. Additionally, STEC outbreaks associated with leafy greens are unsettlingly common occurrences as evidenced by the 28 identified outbreaks occurring between 2009 and 2017. The FDA, CDC, and other governmental agencies have sought to combat the frequency of these occurrences by issuing various communications with state officials, publishing the results of its investigations into the outbreaks, and advising on best practices to avoid such outbreaks.

Among the FDA’s many suggestions, it recommended that the leafy green industry should assess the need for and develop commodity-specific procedures, policies, and best practices to enhance the safety of leafy greens, including, at a minimum, address (1) how agricultural water directly contacting harvestable portions of the crop can be guaranteed safe and adequate for its intended use; (2) how risks related to land uses near or adjacent to growing fields that may contaminate agricultural water or leafy green crops directly (e.g., nearby cattle operations or dairy farms, manure, or composting facilities) can be assessed and mitigated; (3) how food safety procedures, policies, and practices are developed and consistently implemented on farms as well as regularly verified to minimize the potential for contamination and/or spread of human pathogens; and (4) how a root cause analysis should be performed to determine the likely source of any contamination by a foodborne pathogen identified in the agricultural environment, agricultural water, or in the fresh-cut ready-to-eat produce.

Given the available knowledge regarding STEC, its transmission to and effect on humans, as well as the nature—and demonstrated prior history— of STEC transmission from ruminant animal operations to leafy greens and the repeated government advisory and caution of that danger, the undeterred insistence of growing, processing, sourcing, and selling romaine lettuce from a region repeatedly plagued by STEC contamination and subsequent outbreaks is a considerably reckless activity. The findings from the 2018 romaine lettuce outbreak considerably enhance the veracity of that conclusion. Despite all the aforementioned knowledge, the source of the 2018 outbreak that affected hundreds and killed five was found to be a contaminated irrigation canal that supplied water to several farms identified in the traceback investigation who were downstream from a sizeable cattle operation. Such undeterred action in spite of the substantial available knowledge on the risks developed and disseminated over the years fits squarely within Idaho’s characterization of reckless misconduct and should accordingly be treated as such.

__________

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2010/shredded-romaine-5-21-10.html

[2] https://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm624546.htm

Lest we forget, as of June 27, 2018, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 36 states.  Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018 to June 6, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 88 years, with a median age of 28. Sixty-seven percent of ill people were female. Of 201 people with information available, 96 (48%) were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Five deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York.

Here is the FDA Traceback chart:

Here is our Traceback chart to date:

As of January 9, 2019, 62 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 7, 2018, to December 4, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 84 years, with a median age of 25. Sixty-six percent of ill people were female. Of 54 people with information available, 25 (46%) were hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that romaine lettuce from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California was the likely source of this outbreak.Two illness clusters were identified at restaurants where ill people reported eating romaine lettuce. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill. In these two clusters, several ill people reported eating at the same restaurant or shopping at the same location of a grocery store. Investigating illness clusters provides critical clues about the source of an outbreak. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there.

Traceback information from the FDA indicated that ill people in this outbreak ate romaine lettuce harvested from specific counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. The FDA, along with CDC and state partners, investigated farms and cooling facilities in California that were identified in traceback. CDC analyzed water and sediment samples from an Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm in Santa Barbara County, which was one of the farms identified in the traceback investigation. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was found in sediment within an agricultural water reservoir on the farm. WGS results showed that the E. coli O157:H7 found in the agricultural water reservoir was closely related genetically to the E. coli O157:H7 isolated from ill people.

WGS results also showed that the E. coli O157:H7 strain isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the E. coli strain isolated from ill people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada. The outbreak described here is not related to a spring 2018 multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. People in the spring outbreak were infected with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria with a different DNA fingerprint.

In Canada, as of December 24, 2018, there have been 29 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (5), Quebec (20), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). The illnesses in British Columbia were related to travel to Quebec, Ontario and the United States. Individuals became sick between mid-October and mid-November 2018. Ten individuals have been hospitalized, and two individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 93 years of age. The majority of cases (52%) are female.

And, there are the real people I have spoken to in last week related to this outbreak:

  1. Husband with wife in rehabilitation after nearly two-month hospitalized in ICU with HUS.  She is still on dialysis three times a week and will be for rest of her life.
  2. Airline pilot who stopped over in Toronto and has now been hospitalized for weeks in the US with HUS.
  3. Father of Canadian child who ate romaine lettuce while on vacation in California and has been hospitalized with HUS for seven weeks in Vancouver, BC.
  4. Mom tonight who I spoke to as her daughter was undergoing a bowel resection do to E. coli O157:H7.
  5. Another mom whose daughter spent 15 days in the hospital undergoing several blood transfusions after being diagnosed with HUS.

Real people.

In the Spring of 2016, the CDC reported that thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strains of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 12 states – Arizona 4, California 5, Florida 2, Illinois 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Missouri 1, New Jersey 1, Oregon 11, Virginia 2, Washington 2 and Wisconsin 1. Twelve people were hospitalized. Nine people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported. Twenty-six (81%) of the 32-ill people in this outbreak were younger than 18 years. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter manufactured by Dixie Dew was the likely source of this outbreak.

Both I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  Each company paid their insurance proceeds into the Bankruptcy Court in Chicago for a total of $11,250,000.  As part of that process twenty-six people filed claim and each of their claims were valued by a Court-appointed evaluator.  The values of the cases ranged from $25,000 to $25,000,000 individually based upon the severity of the illnesses for a total of $70,000,000. Each person received a pro-rata share of $6,000,000 in October 2018.  It is expected that the Court will order the balance, $5,250,000, to be disbursed by the Court on January 10, 2018.

Once the Bankruptcy Court rules, the 26 claimants will continue litigation against the supply chain and retailers who sold the product.

If anyone wants an informative read from a near Pulitzer-quality article and photos (if they would have also shown the real impacts on the consumers of the product, the article would have been a Pulitzer-lock – See The Burger that Shattered Her Life – 2010 Prize), please take the time to read Robert Anglen of the Arizona Republic recent article: Clues to a deadly medical mystery hide in Arizona’s romaine lettuce fields – Attempts to trace E. coli outbreaks are often unsuccessful and misleading. Outbreaks tied to romaine spread farther and sicken more.

Me, I am into the obvious, any real questions on why we have E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to cows and romaine in Yuma?

According to the CDC, fifty-nine people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 15 states and the District of Columbia. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 5, 2018 to November 16, 2018. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.  In Canada, as of December 13, 2018, there have been 28 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (5), Quebec (19), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). The illnesses in British Columbia were related to travel to Quebec, Ontario and the United States. Individuals became sick between mid-October and mid-November 2018. Ten individuals have been hospitalized, and two individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 93 years of age.

The above numbers will grow.

And, there are the real people I have spoken to in last week related to this outbreak:

  1. Husband with wife in rehabilitation after nearly two-month hospitalized in ICU with HUS.  She is still on dialysis three times a week and will be for rest of her life.
  2. Airline pilot who stopped over in Toronto and has now been hospitalized for weeks in the US with HUS.
  3. Father of Canadian child who ate romaine lettuce while on vacation in California and has been hospitalized with HUS for seven weeks in Vancouver, BC.
  4. Mom tonight who I spoke to as her daughter was undergoing a bowel resection do to E. coli O157:H7.
  5. Another mom whose daughter spent 15 days in the hospital undergoing several blood transfusions after being diagnosed with HUS.

Real people.

Fifty-nine people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 15 states and the District of Columbia. Since the last CDC update on December 6, an additional 7 ill people have been included in this investigation – California 12, Connecticut 1, District of Columbia 1, Florida 1, Illinois 2, Louisiana 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Michigan 7, New Hampshire 6, New Jersey 12, New York 7, Ohio 1, Pennsylvania 4, Rhode Island 1, Wisconsin 1.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 5, 2018 to November 16, 2018.

Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

FDA Update.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified ill people infected with the same DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in Canada. In Canada, as of December 6, 2018, there have been 27 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (19), New Brunswick (1), and British Columbia (3). The illnesses in British Columbia were related to travel to Quebec, Ontario and the United States. Individuals became sick between mid-October and early November 2018. Nine individuals have been hospitalized, and two individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 2 and 93 years of age. The majority of cases (52%) are male.

The FDA, along with CDC and state partners, is investigating farms and cooling facilities in California that were identified in traceback. CDC identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in sediment collected within an agricultural water reservoir on Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm, which was identified in traceback.

CDC is advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce harvested from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. FDA continues its investigation of farms identified in traceback.

Laboratory analysis indicates that the illnesses reported in this outbreak are genetically related to illnesses reported in a previous E. coli outbreak from December 2017 that affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. This tells us that the same strain of E. coli is causing illness in Canada and the US as was seen in 2017 and it suggests there may be a reoccurring source of contamination. Investigators are using evidence collected in both outbreaks to help identify the possible cause of the contamination in these events.  Twenty-five people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 15 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 5, 2017 to December 12, 2017. Nine people were hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. One death was reported from California.

In December 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) investigated an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces linked to romaine lettuce. In total, there were 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness reported in five eastern provinces: Ontario (8), Quebec (15), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Individuals became sick in November and early December 2017. Seventeen individuals were hospitalized. One individual died. Individuals who became ill were between the ages of 3 and 85 years of age. The majority of cases (74%) were female.

Total Sick – 350
Hospitalized – 162
Kidney Failure – 31
Deaths – 7

In 2017 in Canada, a total, of 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness were reported in five eastern provinces: Ontario (8), Quebec (15), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Seventeen individuals were hospitalized. One individual died. Individuals who became ill were between the ages of 3 and 85 years of age. The majority of cases (74%) were female.

In 2017 in the United States, 25 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157: H7 had been reported from 15 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 95 years, with a median age of 26. Among ill people, 67% were female. Nine ill people were hospitalized, including two people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. One death was reported from California.

In the Spring of 2018 in Canada, there were eight Canadian illnesses of E. coli O157 with a similar genetic fingerprint to illnesses reported in the U.S. investigation.

In the United States as of June 27, 2018, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 were reported from 36 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 88 years, with a median age of 28. Sixty-seven percent of ill people were female. Of 201 people with information available, 96 (48%) were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Five deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York.

In Canada, as of November 23, 2018, there had been 22 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (17), and New Brunswick (1). Eight individuals were hospitalized, and one individual suffered from the hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Individuals who became ill were between 5 and 93 years of age. The cases are evenly distributed among male and female individuals.

As of today, forty-three people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 12 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Sixteen people have been hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence from the United States and Canada indicates that romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California is a likely source of the outbreak.

Ill people in this outbreak were infected with E. coli bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint as the E. coli strain isolated from ill people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada. The current outbreak is not related to a spring 2018 multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce.

CDC is advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.