One person is dead, provinces are reporting illnesses and nine consumers have confirmed that they have been sickened after eating contaminated romaine lettuce, yet no recalls have been put in place.
On Thursday, The Public Health Agency of Canada reported the death of one person and a total of 30 cases of E. Coli contamination detected in five provinces. Their statement did not share the location of the death or any specific details. The agency reported six cases in Ontario, five in Quebec and New Brunswick, one in Nova Scotia and 13 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Those affected are between the ages of four and 80 with 70 percent of them being female.
The agency first reported the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on Monday. Their report confirmed 21 people affected across three provinces: Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. The victim count increased to 30 individuals when the agency reported an outbreak in Ontario and Nova Scotia on Thursday.
The most recently reported case was on Dec. 2, suggesting that the contaminated product might still be in market. Officials have not given out details on the type of romaine lettuce – whole head, leaves, hearts or chopped – that was consumed by the victims.
“Many individuals who became sick reported eating romaine lettuce before their illnesses occurred,” said a statement from the federal health agency. “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working with public health officials to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to.
“At this time, there are no product recalls associated with this outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing, and this public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.”
It can take up to ten days for symptoms to occur after being infected with the bacteria, meaning there are likely additional victims to be identified. It also takes weeks for the illness to be examined and linked to the outbreak. So far, a dozen of the individuals infected have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization.
Officials are advising consumers to be careful when purchasing romaine lettuce products.