E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce expands to 16 states

As a result, they caution that all store-bought romaine lettuce, including salad mixes containing romaine, should not be eaten.

Local health officials are offering up some safety advice following a pair of confirmed cases in Missoula of E. coli linked to the multi-state outbreak associated with cut romaine lettuce. No deaths had yet been reported.

Consumers are warned to throw away any chopped romaine lettuce purchased at stores as it may contain risky E.coli bacteria. "If you or someone from your family recently ate romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately". While most strains are harmless, the one found in recent patients - 0157:H7 - is a specific strain that can cause serious illness. In Montana six people have fallen sick, while Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington have reported three or fewer. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified.

Yuma bills itself as the "winter lettuce capital" and hosts an annual Lettuce Festival.


Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Sam's Club, Giant Eagle and Fresh Foods Manufacturing Co. are some of the retailers that have already recalled products that could be involved in the outbreak.

According to the CDC, the O157 E.coli outbreak involves 16 states, including Arizona, as of April 18. Figuring out where bagged, store-bought chopped lettuce was originally grown can be hard, so the CDC suggested that if you don't know for certain, avoid chopped romaine lettuce altogether. Food Safety News reports there have been almost 80 E. Coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens since 1995.

The CDC based the new warning on eight new cases of acute gastroenteritis at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, that appear to be connected to the current outbreak affecting 53 people in 16 states.

In a joint statement issued last week, a coalition of five produce industry groups said they were working to identify the source of the outbreak.


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