Coli Outbreak Hits 7 States, Source Is Unknown

Chopped romaine lettuce

The source of a multistate Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak announced 3 days ago appears to be chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Az., growing region, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today.

Of the 17 cases, at least six involved hospitalization.

The states reporting cases of the especially nasty strain are Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and CT, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notice published this week. According to the CDC, there were 2 reported outbreaks of E. coli in 2017 linked to leafy greens and SoyNut Butter.

As soon as the poisoned food is identified, grocery stores and restaurants will be advised to avoid serving it. E. coli is often transmitted on raw vegetables and undercooked meat.

So far 35 cases of E. coli illness in 11 states have been reported and linked to the outbreak. No deaths have been reported to date. No specific grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified at this time. 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).

The Ohio Department of Health tells 21 News that a 24-year-old woman in Mahoning County became ill from E. Coli on March 26.

The source of the outbreak can, as of now, only be traced to chopped romaine lettuce from the growing region of Yuma, Arizona. Four cases are reported in Hunterdon County with one each in Monmouth, Sussex and Somerset counties. The FDA now does not have information to indicate that whole-head romaine lettuce or hearts of romaine have contributed to this outbreak.

The CDC is also advising consumers to ask if the lettuce was transported from Yuma, Arizona, when purchasing or eating it at a restaurant. All we know so far is that this potentially deadly bacteria has infected people in states on both coasts of the U.S., and that it's sickening both young and old alike: the 17 ill patients range from age 12 to 84, and 65% are females.

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