CDC expands warning in E. coli outbreak from Arizona lettuce

Don't Eat the Lettuce! Prevention Guidelines Expanded in Multi State E. coli. Outbreak

The CDC said Friday that consumers are being advised to avoid whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce that may have come from the Yuma region. Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, throw out any romaine lettuce if you're uncertain about where it was grown. No deaths have been reported.

She said the food-borne bacteria cause severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, and sometimes fever within one to 10 days of exposure. None is suffering from kidney failure, the most acute response to the pathogen.

Previous warnings only applied to chopped romaine by itself or as part of salads and salad mixes. Of the 31 people who have been hospitalized from the romaine lettuce outbreak, five had this complication. As of yet, the infected states include: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Alaska.

But on April 19, 2018, Alaska health officials announced that several people in the correctional facility who got sick with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 ate whole-head romaine lettuce from Yuma.

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Seven cases have been reported here, including three in Flathead County, two in Missoula County and one each in Lincoln and Ravalli counties.

Restaurants and retailers are also being urged not to serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region and to check with suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.

Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. These illnesses were not included in the CDC's case count, and will be included in the next update, the agency says. However, they also stated that "Zero fatalities have been declared" at this time. The bacteria that make these toxins are called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC for short.

This strain has been responsible for many high-profile outbreaks. Infections start when someone swallows a tiny amount of human or animal feces through a variety of ways, including contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, unclean water or contact with the feces of infected people.

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