Yuma area grew romaine lettuce that's likely causing E. coli outbreak

Bacterial colonies

Romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, region, near the southern border of California, may have caused a recent outbreak of Escherichia coli, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced.

"Illnesses reported by investigators in New Jersey also included ill people who had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with E. coli bacteria", the CDC statement reads. Of the 22 people hospitalized in the outbreak, three had developed a type of kidney failure, according to the C.D.C.

Other states in the outbreak include Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Missouri and Washington. However, the agency says it hasn't identified a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand yet.

The source of the outbreak remains unclear, and because of that, the CDC "is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food at this time". Ill people range in age from 12 to 84 years, with a median age of 29. The outbreak involves a particularly risky strain of the bacteria known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7.




Most people get sick from E. coli three to four days after consuming the bacteria. That includes salads and salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce.

But officials advise that consumers, restaurants, and retailers should throw out any chopped romaine lettuce that came from the Yuma area. "If you or someone from your family recently ate store-bought chopped romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately". Restaurants and retailers are not now advised to avoid serving or selling any particular food.

According to the CDC, 26 people who became ill reported eating a salad at a restaurant. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. The lettuce has been found in both restaurants and private homes.

ADHS is working with local health departments, the CDC, and the FDA to confirm the source of the E. coli O157 infections, to identify additional cases, and to prevent the spread of the disease.

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