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CDC Finds Sources of Bacterial 'Sproutbreaks'

Jun 12, 2014 04:37 PM EDT

Two "sproutbreaks" of E. Coli and Salmonella have affected nearly 80 people in the United States and Canada - a fourth of whom found themselves in the hospital for their dangerous bacterial infection.

Investigators from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teamed up with experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHA) to trace the origins of these often food-borne bacterial infections.

Both outbreaks have since been referred to as "sproutbreaks" after investigators determined that they originated from sprouted chia and flax seeds or clover.

According to the CDC, in the first of these outbreaks, 17 people in 5 states exclusively in the United States were infected with Escherichia coli (E. Coli) as of June 9. These illnesses were traced back to contaminated raw sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho.

Alarmingly, these sprouts have not yet been recalled by the company in question, and the CDC is currently scrambling to warn consumers and distributors of their illness.

This "sproutbreak" may not even be over, according to a CDC public health warning, where "the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported... takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks."

Working with the Canadian PHA, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC investigators also determined that a Salmonella outbreak that has affected 34 Canadians and 21 Americans can be traced to various brands of organic sprouted chia powder. Navitas Naturals products in particular have been named after laboratory testing of samples from victims' homes turned up positive for the virus, and the company is cooperating with the CDC to recall potentially contaminated products.

According to a CDC update, investigators plan to release the names of other potentially involved brands following laboratory confirmation. Several Canadian companies have also voluntarily recalled products as a precaution against more outbreaks.

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