Coli outbreak traced to romaine lettuce

35 sick from E. Coli outbreak traced to romaine lettuce

35 sick from E. Coli outbreak traced to romaine lettuce

A multistate E. Coli outbreak has sickened 35 people, causing 22 to be hospitalized and three to go into kidney failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases have been identified in 11 states so far, including in high-population New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and CT.

CDC also said the number of cases may increase "due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported". The earliest symptoms began on March 22.

Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. Those most at risk for E. coli illness include the very young, the very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Chopped romaine lettuce has been linked to dozens of cases of E. coli and anyone who has the leafy green in their refrigerator is told to throw it away immediately, health officials said Friday. The symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fever. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away", the CDC said.

Restaurants and stores are advised not to serve or sell chopped romaine lettuce.

The CDC has not been able to identify a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand of romaine lettuce. "The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads", according to the investigation report, which added there are no reports involving whole heads or hearts of romaine.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, which has some jurisdiction in these matters, have come under consumer group scrutiny over the timing of outbreak warnings, which are made hard by trying to isolate an E. coli source and because of the short shelf life of leafy greens in particular, meaning that by the time a source is identified, the contaminated food may be out of circulation - except when it's not, say critics.

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