Medical

Multistate E. coli outbreak traced to lettuce spreads to Missouri, Illinois

Multistate E. coli outbreak traced to lettuce spreads to Missouri, Illinois

The CDC tracked the infections across eleven states to romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona, but no brand or grower has been identified, according to the CDC.

State and local public health agencies in Montana are investigating several reports of E. coli O157 illnesses linked to chopped romaine lettuce sourced from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona.

Consumers anywhere in the US who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes, should not eat it and throw it away - even if you have eaten some of it already.

"Individuals with this infection usually get better within about 5 to 7 days, however some illnesses can be serious or even life-threatening", Dr. Shereef Elnahal, commissioner of the state Department of Health, said in a statement.

That's similar to the recall Freshway made during the 2010 romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak after an unopened product sample tested positive for E. coli. Some people may have a low fever, less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

A small outbreak in a fast food restaurant with no lawsuits could cost about $4,000, but that number jumps to $1.9 million when more than 250 people get sick and some decide to sue the establishment.

So far, federal officials haven't identified a source, but on April 14 Fresh Foods Manufacturing, based in Freedom, Pa., voluntarily recalled ready-to-eat salads after receiving notification that its supplier was recalling romaine lettuce over E coli concerns. If you do not know if the chopped lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.




Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. The earliest symptoms began on March 22. Twenty-six (93%) of 28 people interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. Thirty-five people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 11 states.

"It is unrealistic to expect consumers to figure out whether their romaine was produced in Arizona or somewhere else, especially when eating in a restaurant", she says.

Lettuce from restaurants is suspected to be affected, as well as bagged and pre-chopped lettuce from stores.

Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The CDC reports 69 percent of those infected are women, and that 22 have been hospitalized and three have suffered from a type of kidney failure.

A Valley-based restaurant chain is switching things up in response to a warning from the CDC over romaine lettuce.

The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to leafy greens.