Coli cases linked to Arizona lettuce go beyond CDC estimates

Faith Castro
April 17, 2018

The United States has been experiencing an E. coli outbreak affecting 11 states with 35 reported cases so far.

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

Restaurants and retailers have been advised not to sell or serve any chopped romaine lettuce and consumers are told to throw away any store-bought lettuce or salad mixes immediately, according to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away", advises the CDC. This weekend stores here in Page had signs about the information and their pre-made salads were almost sold out- the CDC says the bags of pre-made salad containing romaine are not considered safe either so be on the safe side and toss in the trash and not in a salad.

Laura Gieraltowski, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Foodborne Outbreak Response Team at the CDC, predicts there will be more reports of illness in the days and weeks ahead.

Health officials said these people became ill between March 22 and March 31; the majority of them reported that they ate romaine lettuce within a week before they became sick.

Lettuce from restaurants is suspected to be affected, as well as bagged and pre-chopped lettuce from stores. Romaine grown elsewhere and other forms of romaine, such as whole heads or hearts, are not believed to have been contaminated, according to a joint statement from industry leaders. "The leafy greens community takes the responsibility for producing fresh produce very seriously".

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Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection.

A 1996 large E. coli O157 outbreak sickened 70 people who were mostly children. The company, which produced a nut-free substitute for peanut butter, later filed for bankruptcy.

Most strains of E.coli are harmless but O157: H7 is known to cause more severe illness.

The CDC investigation is ongoing to identify the source of the contamination.

This is not the first time romaine lettuce were linked to the spread of E. coli.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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