The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning about lettuce after an outbreak of E.coli has been reported across multiple states over the last two weeks. The contaminated romaine lettuce was traced back to Yuma in southwestern Arizona, and the CDC advise the public not to buy or consume romaine lettuce that is from the area or of unknown origin.
“Unless the source of the product is known, consumers anywhere in the United States who have any store-bought romaine lettuce at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick,” the CDC wrote in a statement. “This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.”
So far, 53 cases have been documented across 16 states, and 31 of those have required hospitalization. Five of the people taken to the hospital have developed kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is an extremely serious condition that could lead to lifelong complications and, in a few cases, death. No fatalities have been reported from this outbreak to date.
The first warning was issued on April 10, with 17 people infected across seven states. The number has continued to grow over the last few weeks as the outbreak spreads. The latest warning from the CDC comes after people became ill at a correctional facility in Alaska after eating whole heads of romaine lettuce from Yuma.
The affected states as of today are Arizona, Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, California, Washington, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. The appeal by the CDC goes to the public, retailers, and restaurants. E. coli infections are serious, with most caused by the E.coli O157 strain found in the gut and excrement of many animals, particularly cattle and sheep. It can cause diarrhea, blood in feces, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever.