Consumers have been warned not to eat #romaine lettuce until US health officials have had a chance to determine the source of an E. coli outbreak. Consumer Reports says that 58 people have been struck with this illness in the United States and Canada. Both the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) and the #Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) started sending warnings about the outbreak on November 15 and will continue through to December 8, 2017.

#E. coli is a serious matter because the strain produces a toxin that can lead to serious illness, kidney problems, and even death. Over the last seven weeks, five people in the United States have been hospitalized [VIDEO], and one has died from what was believed to be contaminated lettuce.

At least 41 cases have been reported in Canada, and like the U.S. one person has died there.

States that might be affected

James Rogers, Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports, says that as of now there is not enough proof that the lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak, but the organization wants to be on the safe side. Warnings are strongly made in 13 states including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state. Romaine lettuce has been removed from store shelves in states where E. coli is suspected.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has no doubt that romaine lettuce is the source of the E. coli outbreak, but the CDC has an ongoing investigation to determine if the lettuce is the cause of the hospitalizations and the two deaths.

The CDC is assuring consumers that the investigation is ongoing and promises that the public will be notified of more information as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, other types of lettuce should be used instead even though alternatives of the leafy greens might not have been the lettuce of choice in the past.

People usually affected by E. coli

Anyone can get sick if infected with E. coli, however, those who are known to be most affected include the elderly, young children, and persons suffering from diabetes or cancer. That's because their immune systems are already weakened, and the toxin puts them at a greater risk. People in those groups should be especially careful when there is news about an E. coli outbreak involving any food.

Most symptoms of infection usually start 1 to 3 days after consuming a food that has been contaminated. Symptoms to watch out for include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a slight fever. See a doctor if these symptoms last longer than three days.