More cases in E. coli outbreak

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"There appears to be an ongoing risk of E. coli infections associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce in Canada's eastern provinces", Canada said on December 28.

Federal health officials reported seven additional cases of E. coli illness Wednesday in a deadly E. coli outbreak that has now struck 15 U.S. states. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure.

The last reported illness in the United States was on December 12, suggesting that the risk of buying food contaminated in the current outbreak had passed.

The CDC says the likely source of the outbreak in the USA appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of greens eaten by people who became ill.

Numerous sick people reported eating romaine lettuce in various forms from grocery stores, restaurants and other locations. One person has also died in Canada. However, an eerily similar outbreak in the still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CDC and FDA will continue to update the public as more information on the outbreak source is uncovered. Consumer Reports still warned against eating romaine.

The CDC, for its part, says that it hasn't yet identified the type of leafy green involved and that it's investigation is continuing.

The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery, and mild fever. Based on this information, USA health officials concluded that ill people in this outbreak were not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine lettuce.

Canada also experienced an outbreak and identified romaine lettuce as the source of illnesses there, but where the romaine lettuce came from or how it became contaminated is unknown. There's no official government recall in the United States - yet. The strain of E. coli involved in this outbreak, O157:H7, is particularly serious. If you are concerned that you have an E. coli infection, talk to your healthcare provider.

In all, 42 people, from five provinces, became ill, according to Public Health Agency Canada.

You can protect yourself by washing your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food. Lettuce can also be contaminated by bacteria during and after harvest.

You've probably heard by now that 41 people in Canada have contracted E. coli from what possibly could have been contaminated romaine lettuce.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you're interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.