E. coli outbreak spreads to another state

Forum News Service file

The E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce has now left 149 people ill - almost half of whom battling the infection in hospitals across 29 states.

Cell death triggers the body to send red blood cells to the kidneys, causing clots and kidney failure. "Our romaine is sourced from Salinas, California, where there have not been any reports of contaminated lettuce". There's a lag in reporting, and the most recent illness began two weeks ago.

"Do not eat, buy, or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region", said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases section.

Conducting a traceback investigation from farm to plate is far from a direct line, but more of a massive web that requires tedious detective work, said Faith Critzer, a produce safety specialist and associate professor of food sciences at WSU extension in Prosser.

For the record, the demographic group most impacted by the outbreak is women.

Although E. coli is typically to primarily pose a danger to elderly people and very young children, the median age of those affected in this outbreak is 29. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. Previously, the CDC warned that the strain of E. coli identified, O157:H7, is particularly virulent and known to be associated with higher hospitalization and complication rates.




The CDC continues to track the progress of the outbreak, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempts to sleuth out its source.

"Several weeks can pass from the time a person develops symptoms, goes to a doctor, gets the lab test results and is confirmed as part of the outbreak".

The contaminated romaine distributed by Harrison was harvested between March 5 and March 16.

The CDC said the current outbreak is unrelated to the multi-state outbreak of E. coli in leafy greens in November and December, because the two strains of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria have different DNA fingerprints. In Pennsylvania, 20 people are sick.

Today the federal agency added 28 more people from 12 states, including Texas, to the list of those sickened by the bacterial outbreak first reported in early April. Cattle wandered into the stream and wild pigs were found running back and forth.

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