Coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Posted May 03, 2018

Since the last CDC update on Friday, three more states have reported cases, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Utah.

Here is a complete list of states with cases: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The CDC says the average rate of hospitalization during E. coli outbreaks is typically much lower. Since 14 people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, that rate is nearly 14%, which is higher than the typical rate of 5 to 10% for most E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks. The outbreak began on March 13, and the most recently confirmed case took place on April 21.

"Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe", the CDC said. The patient age range is still from 1 to 88 years. Sixty-three percent of ill people are female. There were 24 reported cases in California, officials there said.

The Food and Drug Administration has identified Harrison Farms of Yuma, Arizona, as the grower and sole source of the whole-head romaine lettuce that sickened several people in an Alaska correctional facility.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Efforts to determine the source of the romaine that was chopped are slow going because of shipping and receiving records through the supply chain that closely resemble a tangled ball of yarn that they do a paper trail.

The winter lettuce season in the Yuma area and the adjacent Imperial Valley in California is largely over, and no other growing region thus far has been linked to any illnesses.

But the CDC continues to emphasize that consumers should confirm that any lettuce they buy or eat did not originate in the Yuma region. Product labels often don't identify growing regions. The warning applies to salad mixes, whole heads, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine and organic romaine. If you are unsure what type of lettuce is in your possession, it is best to throw it away. Restaurants and retailers are also instructed not to sell or serve romaine lettuce, and to check with their suppliers regarding where their romaine lettuce is sourced.