After New Jersey DOH Reports E. coli Outbreak, 10 More States Identified
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an investigation into a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections, now impacting 7 states.
*Updated on 4/13/2018 at 2:51 PM EST
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the FDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service have launched an investigation into a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections, including ones that had been identified by New Jersey health officials a few weeks prior.
As of April 10, 2018, the CDC has confirmed a total of 35 infections spanning 11 states, with Pennylvania reporting the most infections (9). Twenty-two of the individuals have been hospitalized for their infections and 3 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Illnesses began on dates ranging from March 22 to March 31, and those infected range in age from 12 to 84.
Now, CDC and public health investigators are working to identify any additional illnesses that may be a part of this outbreak. Using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole genome sequencing, officials are able to perform DNA fingerprinting on bacteria isolated from individuals who have fallen ill. Officials use the PulseNet system, a national subtyping network of these DNA fingerprints to identify potential outbreaks.
Prior to this update, the New Jersey Department of Health announced that they were in the process of investigating 8 E. coli infections in 4 counties—Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Warren. Although they had not been able to identify a common source, Sarah Perrament, public health epidemiologist in Warren County, was quoted as saying that officials were looking into local Panera Bread locations.
“Illnesses reported by investigators in New Jersey also included ill people who had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with E. coli bacteria,” the CDC statement reads. “Laboratory testing is ongoing to link their illnesses to the outbreak using DNA fingerprinting.”
The CDC notes that some individuals may not be included in this case count due to lack of having bacterial isolates available; these isolates are needed to perform the DNA fingerprinting that would link them to the outbreak.
In an update posted today, April 13, 2018, the CDC has linked this outbreak back to chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. However, a common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has yet to be identified.
As such, officials are urging anyone who has store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, whether its salads or salad mixes that contain chopped romaine lettuce, to discard the products and refrain from eating them.
The CDC will provide the public with more information as it becomes available.