First death reported in romaine-linked E coli outbreak

Lynette PayneMay 03, 2018

Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah are the latest states to report illnesses related to the outbreak.

Three more states-Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Utah-have reported their first cases in the outbreak, pushing the number of affected states to 25. There are now 121 confirmed cases across 25 states.

Federal officials and their state partners are juggling three foodborne illness outbreaks, the E coli event linked to romaine, the Salmonella outbreak connected to eggs, and a norovirus outbreak related to raw oysters harvested from British Columbia. 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.

Last week, the CDC said the strain identified in this outbreak is particularly virulent and known to be associated with higher hospitalization and complication rates. Fifty-two people out of 102 with available information (or 51 percent) have been hospitalized, including 14 patients who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

Infection from E. coli typically manifests within two to eight days after a person swallows the germ, the agency said.

"Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe", the CDC said.

Additional outbreak illnesses are expected to be reported in the coming weeks, according to the CDC.

As previously reported, data indicates that the contaminated romaine lettuce originated from the Yuma, AZ, growing region.

The most recent of the illnesses began on April 21.

The agency especially warned against lettuce in a salad mix, because package labels often do not identify the growing regions of the lettuce inside. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. If you have romaine lettuce in your refrigerator you're advised to throw it away. The chopped romaine that was the initial clue in this outbreak also came from Yuma, Arizona, but officials have not been able to pinpoint a farm or distributor.

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