More illnesses have been reported in connection with an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 53 people in 16 states have been sickened by the leafy green in the current outbreak. This adds 18 additional patients and five more states to the investigation, which was originally announced on April 13.
The number of hospitalizations remains at 31 people, five of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome — a potentially fatal condition that entails acute kidney failure and abnormal destruction of red blood cells. No deaths have been reported.
The 16 states involved in this outbreak, caused by the O157:H7 strain of E. coli, include Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. The highest case counts are in Pennsylvania (12) and Idaho (10). Infected persons range from 10 to 85 years old, and 75 percent are female.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has identified the region of origin for the tainted romaine as Yuma, Arizona. No single producer, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified; therefore there is no recall at this time.
State and local health officials are continuing their investigation by interviewing those who are ill to ask about what foods they ate and other exposures before they started feeling sick. Around 95 percent of those interviewed claim to have eaten romaine lettuce in the week before they began to experience symptoms. Most also reported eating salad at a restaurant, and those restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine. Currently, sickened people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine. If you’ve eaten this product recently, watch for symptoms like diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising consumers to avoid buying chopped or bagged romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, region. Anyone who has purchased this product, including as part of salads or salad mixes, is advised to throw it away, even if no one in your home has gotten sick. Instead, try these 15 fruits and vegetables that are least likely to poison you.