CDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli Infections

PUBLISHED: Jan 2, 2018
Relevant to: Ambulatory Care, Critical Access Hospitals, Hospitals, Medical Office/Clinic

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) in 13 states. Seventeen illnesses have been reported from California (3), Connecticut (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), Vermont (1) and Washington (1). Illnesses started on dates from November 15 through December 8, 2017. The Public Health Agency of Canada also is investigating an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces.

Whole genome sequencing is being performed on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to provide information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada. Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada. In the United States, state and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started. The CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.

Because the source of infections has not been identified at this time, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available. Links to resources about how to report suspected foodborne illness diagnosis is provided below.

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