E. coli are bacteria with many different subtypes, some of which can cause disease in people. E. coli can cause a variety of different infections, including gastrointestinal illness and urinary tract infections, among others. In Alaska, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is tracked by public health. STEC can be spread by eating contaminated foods or drinks, or by having contact with a sick person, animal, or contaminated surface. STEC can cause diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and sometimes a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Most people recover in 5-7 days.
In November 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to consumption of romaine lettuce. There were no cases identified in Alaska. As of January 9, 2019, the outbreak appears to be over; contaminated lettuce that made people sick in this outbreak should no longer be available.
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