Health Officials Warn 'Throw Romaine Lettuce Away'

Stay Away from All Romaine Lettuce, CDC Advises as E. coli Outbreak Worsens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its warning to consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region due to a growing E. coli outbreak that has sickened people in 16 states.

In the USA, the infected lettuce has come from the Yuma region in Arizona. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.

Officials say people at an Alaska correctional facility recently reported feeling ill after eating romaine lettuce that was traced back to lettuce heads harvested in Yuma.

Also on April 12th, the CDC released that twenty-six (93%) of 28 people interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started.

Most people recover within one week although some illnesses can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Zero deaths have been reported. If you can not confirm where it was grown, do not eat it.

No common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has yet been identified.

A direct link to the CDC's website with more information about the outbreak and what you need to know can be found here. As of yet, the infected states include: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Alaska.

Seven cases have been reported here, including three in Flathead County, two in Missoula County and one each in Lincoln and Ravalli counties. Symptoms of infection include bad stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.

At that time, ill people were not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.

The different ways that romaine lettuce is harvested could make identifying the specific origin of contamination more hard, Marler said.

Eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by E. coli bacteria may cause gastrointestinal distress.

As of Wednesday, the hospitalization rate for this outbreak was about 58 percent, much higher than the 30 percent normally associated with infections involving E. coli O157: H7, according to a CDC update sent to clinicians on Thursday.

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