In the latest report from international medical, security and travel assistance services company Healix International, travellers to the US are advised to be aware of an ongoing outbreak of Escherichia coli caused by Romaine lettuce.
The outbreak has affected 43 individuals from 12 states and led to 16 hospitalisations. The source of the outbreak was identified as infected Romaine lettuce from farms in California. The outbreak led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue an advisory urging consumers and restaurants to discard any Romaine lettuce from certain growing regions of California and all Romaine lettuce if the origin is unknown.
The Healix International report stated that three outbreaks of E. Coli have occurred in the US in the last two years, resulting in the deaths of six people. Last year’s outbreak, in Yuma, Arizona, was later identified to have been caused by a contaminated irrigation canal used to water the lettuces. The canal was found to run by a large animal feeding facility that provided effluent contaminated by E. Coli. The report highlighted that lettuce is particularly prone to bacterial infection that can be difficult to decontaminate effectively.
The Food and Drug Administration is holding public meetings to encourage farmers to reduce the risk of contamination to their produce, lessening the chance of the epidemic recurring again.