CDC expands warning in E. coli outbreak from lettuce

Glen Norman
April 22, 2018

Consumers who have store-bought romaine at home, including salads and salad mixes containing that lettuce, should throw it away immediately, USA health officials said - even if some had already been eaten with no ill effects.

The CDC noted that product labels often don't identify growing regions; any lettuce not marked should be tossed, even if part of it has been eaten and nobody became ill. If a consumer is unable to confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, they're advised not to buy it or eat it. Salad mixes with pieces of romaine should also be discarded.

"Based on new information from Alaska, CDC is expanding its warning to cover all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region", the CDC said in its update.

Cases of E. coli traced to lettuce have been reported in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.

CBS News' Don Dahler reports that 90 percent of the romaine grown in the US between November and March comes from the Yuma region, and while the exact source of the outbreak hasn't been identified, the CDC strongly suspects that region is the culprit.

Health officials warned consumers to completely avoid romaine lettuce amid a widening E.coli outbreak linked to produce grown in Yuma, Ariz. None of the cases were in Hawaiʻi.

No one should eat romaine lettuce - or any lettuce at all - unless they can be sure it's not from Arizona, federal health officials said Friday. People who swallow the germ contract symptoms of diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting within two to eight days.

Though the CDC has tied the tainted lettuce to the Arizona growing region, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified as of yet. Five of them developed a type of kidney failure associated with an E. coli illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Most people recover in a week.

People in 16 states have now gotten sick. Occasionally, more serious complications can occur, including kidney failure.

As with most outbreaks, this one involves the industrial food supply chain.

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