Non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) can cause severe illness, including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). STEC O145 is the sixth most commonly reported non-O157 STEC in the United States, although outbreaks have been infrequent. In April and May 2010, we investigated a multistate outbreak of STEC O145 infection. Confirmed cases were STEC O145 infections with isolate pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns indistinguishable from those of the outbreak strain. Probable cases were STEC O145 infections or HUS in persons who were epidemiologically linked. Case-control studies were conducted in Michigan and Ohio; food exposures were analyzed at the restaurant, menu, and ingredient level. Environmental inspections were conducted in implicated food establishments, and food samples were collected and tested. To characterize clinical findings associated with infections, we conducted a chart review for case patients who sought medical care. We identified 27 confirmed and 4 probable cases from five states. Of these, 14 (45%) were hospitalized, 3 (10%) developed HUS, and none died. Among two case-control studies conducted, illness was significantly associated with consumption of shredded romaine lettuce in Michigan (odds ratio [OR] = undefined; 95%confidence interval [CI] = 1.6 to undefined) and Ohio (OR = 10.9; 95%CI = 3.1 to 40.5). Samples from an unopened bag of shredded romaine lettuce yielded the predominant outbreak strain. Of 15 case patients included in the chart review, 14 (93%) had diarrhea and abdominal cramps and 11 (73%) developed bloody diarrhea. This report documents the first foodborne outbreak of STEC O145 infections in the United States. Current surveillance efforts focus primarily on E. coli O157 infections; however, non-O157 STEC can cause similar disease and outbreaks, and efforts should be made to identify both O157 and non-O157 STEC infections. Providers should test all patients with bloody diarrhea for both non-O157 and O157 STEC.

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Author notes

Present address: National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.

Selected findings were presented at the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 1 to 2 March 2011, and the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI, 21 July to 3 August 2011.

§The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No conflicts of interest are reported by any author.