August 17, 2018

Death Linked To Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak

03 May 2018, 06:06 | Rodolfo Wallace

Riley Steinbrenner The Badger Herald

Riley Steinbrenner  The Badger Herald

This outbreak will likely keep growing, since it can take a few weeks from the time a person starts feeling ill until they go to the doctor, are diagnosed, and that illness is reported to public health officials.

The total provided on Wednesday is up 23 cases from the C.D.C.'s last update on April 27, and Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah reported their first cases. However, in some people, such as children under five, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems, the disease can progress into a sometimes-fatal form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said two cases have been reported in MA but no additional information was immediately available.

The outbreak is the worst of its kind since 2006, when about 200 people were sickened by contaminated spinach from the Salinas Valley, the CDC said.

The Yuma region - which includes farms across the Colorado River in southeastern California - grows the overwhelming majority of the lettuce and other leafy greens consumed in the United States in the winter months, but the industry begins shifting to California's Central Valley and Salinas Valley in the second half of March and early April.

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Officials believe the lettuce was grown in the Yuma, Arizona, area.

Health officials are continuing to investigate the source of the ongoing outbreak but still have not been able to identify a single grower, farm, manufacturer, supplier or brand. Product labels often don't identify growing regions.

According to McCullough, individuals who ate romaine lettuce and are experiencing diarrhea should contact their health care provider.

The outbreak is unusually severe due to the particular strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157:H7, which tends to lead to higher hospitalization rates. People usually get sick two to eight days after ingesting the bacteria, and most people recover within one week, the CDC said.

The FDA noted that the other cases were linked to restaurant salads in which romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient.

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