CDC warns of multi-state E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

CDC warns of multi-state E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

It can travel from cattle farms to nearby fields where lettuce is growing, or it might end up in a pond where you go swimming. If you have some of the lettuce, or aren't sure where yours comes from, throw it out.

If you cannot confirm the source or distributor do not buy or eat it. If the green's origin can't be determined, don't buy it or eat it, the CDC said.

The FDA recommends consumers ask restaurants and other food service establishments where their romaine lettuce originated and avoid chopped romaine lettuce that originated from Yuma, Arizona.

"Illnesses reported by investigators in New Jersey also included ill people who had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with E. coli bacteria", the CDC reports in an April 10 news release. To date, 35 other cases have been reported in 11 states with 22 hospitalizations and no deaths.

The states that reported cases of infection are New Jersey, Idaho, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington.

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The outbreak started late last month, affecting mostly women in age from 12 to 84 years old.

People "who have bought romaine lettuce - including salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce - should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick", the New Jersey Department of Health said. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. "At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of Romaine". "Among ill people, 65% are female", officials said.

Symptoms including bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting commonly appear three to four days after ingesting the harmful bacteria and usually clear up within a week.

Identifying a common source for E. coli infections is particularly challenging because individuals could potentially eat several meals spanning several places before experiencing symptoms and falling ill. People are encouraged to contact their health care provider if they have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that they can not keep liquids down and they pass very little urine.

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