CDC Says Romaine Lettuce Likely Source Of E. Coli Outbreak

Multistate E. coli Outbreak Caused by Unknown Food Source

Initial investigations by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the contamination likely came from chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.

"People in the previous outbreak were infected with a different DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157: H7 bacteria", CDC's report says. So far, six of the victims have been hospitalized, with only one developing severe complications - hemolytic uremic syndrome and kidney failure.

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.

At this time, the CDC said, no grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified. The patients are between 12 and 84 years old. The outbreak involves a particularly unsafe strain of the bacteria known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7. Most recover from the infection within a week, though serious cases can be life-threatening, the Department of Health and Welfare said.

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"If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away", the CDC said. The Illinois resident reported consuming chopped romaine lettuce before illness onset, in central Illinois.

Most healthy people said the chopped romaine lettuce was an ingredient in a restaurant salad. "State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before their illness started".

Idaho public health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli infections that are linked to a national outbreak affecting at least 10 other states. That includes salads and salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce. They could have eaten at several restaurants, at home or eaten food purchased at a supermarket.

Symptoms of E. coli O157 include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain.

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