Leafy greens have been confirmed as the source of what has previously been called E. coli Outbreak Unknown Source 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The leafy greens E. coli outbreak has ended after sickening 40 people in 19 states. Twenty people were so sick they required hospitalization, four of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a form of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says its investigation of the outbreak is continuing and that it would be releasing a detailed report of its findings in the coming weeks. The agency conducted traceback investigations and tested samples from several ranches but was not able to determine the specific kind of leafy green that was the source of the outbreak. One reason for this is that leafy greens are are “often grown, harvested, and processed together,” the CDC said in its report.
The people who were sickened in this outbreak all reported eating several kinds of leafy greens in the week before they became ill. They range in age from 1 to 85 years old. Health officials interviewed 23 people about their food histories in the week before they became ill. All but one reported eating a variety of leafy greens in the week before they became ill, 16 reported eating spinach, 15 reported eating romaine lettuce.
The E. coli strain associated with this outbreak was linked to a fall 2019 romaine E. coli outbreak. According to the CDC, leafy greens are a common source of E. coli outbreaks. Between 2009 and 2018, 40 E. coli outbreaks were linked to leafy greens, romaine lettuce was the source of more than half of them.
This outbreak was one of three “mystery” outbreaks announced all at once by the CDC this fall. Leafy greens were the suspected source of all three outbreaks, but the other two outbreaks ended this week without a food source identified.
Contact the Pritzker Hageman E. coli Team
Phone: 1-888-377-8900 | Text: 1-612-261-0856