22 people who are sick of E. coli on lettuce, Canadian officials say



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The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified four new cases of E. coli related to Roman lettuce since announcing an investigation into the problem on Wednesday.

The agency announced the new cases at a press conference on Friday afternoon. One of the new cases was in New Brunswick and the rest in Ontario and Quebec. This brings the total number of cases to 22.

Four cases of this particular strain of E. coli: 0157 were in Ontario, 17 in Quebec and one in New Brunswick. The new cases occurred in late October and early November – the same time period as other diseases.

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PHAC first warned people in Ontario and Quebec not to eat lettuce on Wednesday, and now they have the same advice for people in New Brunswick. They also suggest that people in these provinces throw away the lettuce if they have any at home, and wash and sterilize all containers and shelves of refrigerators and drawers that have come in contact with the product.

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Authorities say there is no evidence so far that people in other provinces are at risk.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has not issued a recall of the lettuce and is still investigating the exact source of the outbreak. Although many people have reported lettuce consumption and the CFIA believes that the problems are related to lettuce, none of the lettuce tested so far has shown signs of E. coli.

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While the CFIA has noted in the press that lettuce has a relatively short lifespan, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief of public health, said people still may have lettuce at home, which is why authorities are asking the Canadians to throw it away.

The outbreak may also have been more than a single bad batch, he suggested, and there may be a continuing source of contamination.

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Given the beginning of October of the first reported diseases, Romaine lettuce It probably comes from California, which is the leading producer of American lettuce, Food and Drug Administration spokesman Peter Cassell told Reuters on Wednesday.

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The CFIA has increased its lettuce tests in response to the outbreak, according to Dr. Aline Dimitri, deputy head of food security.

The US Centers for Disease Control also issued a warning saying that all Americans should refrain from eating Roma lettuce and discard them if they have any at home.

Symptoms of E. coli infection may include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting, and usually go away within a few days. However, some people may develop serious or life-threatening complications. If you develop any of these symptoms after eating lettuce, you should contact a health professional, authorities said.

-With a Reuters file

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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