California E. Coli death possibly linked to contaminated lettuce: 5 things to know

The CDC recently confirmed one death related to a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Health officials believe the outbreak may be linked to contaminated romaine lettuce, according to an advisory article from Consumer Reports published Wednesday.

Here are five things to know.

1. While the Consumer Reports advisory article reports the CDC's confirmation of the death, the agency has not updated its original release from Dec. 28 announcing an investigation of the outbreak.

2. Seventeen people across 13 states became infected with the bacteria from Nov. 15 through Dec. 8. Three cases occurred in California, two in Connecticut and New Hampshire, and one each in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

3. The outbreak has resulted in five hospitalizations and one death in the U.S., according to the Consumer Reports An article published Wednesday in The Packer said the death occurred in a California resident.

4. Federal investigators are looking into a possible link between the U.S. outbreak and similar infections reported in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the bacteria. However, the CDC has not confirmed the lettuce as the source of the U.S. outbreak and therefore cannot recommend consumers avoid the vegetable.

5. Food safety experts with Consumer Reports, however, did recommend people avoid the leafy vegetable in the Wednesday advisory article due, in part, to the virulence of the coli strain.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw," said James Rogers, PhD, director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports.

To learn more about E. coli, click here.

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