UPDATE: 84 People Now Sick From E. Coli in Chopped Romaine Lettuce

UPDATE: 84 People Now Sick From E. Coli in Chopped Romaine Lettuce

The Kane County Health Department is advising residents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are expanding the investigation into a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses likely linked to chopped romaine lettuce sourced from the winter growing areas in Yuma, AZ.

The multistate food-borne E. coli outbreak is now the largest since 2006, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 84 people were infected in 19 states between mid-March and mid-April, the CDC announced Wednesday, adding more than two dozen cases to its previous count.

One of the cases is an Illinois resident, although not of Kane County. The central Illinois resident reported consuming chopped romaine lettuce before illness onset.

Because of the time it takes for an illness to reach the agency’s attention, illnesses contracted after April 5 may not yet have been reported, the agency said.

According to the CDC, most of the sick patients reported eating salad at a restaurant, and chopped romaine was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten.

The restaurants used bagged chopped romaine to make the salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Trace-back investigations to determine the source of the chopped romaine the restaurants have yet to turn up a specific grower, distributor, or brand, but the early investigation suggests it came from the Yuma, AZ, growing region. An investigation to further narrow the source is still under way.

The CDC is urging restaurants and retailers not to serve any chopped romaine, including salad mixes, from the Yuma, AZ, region. Also, it advised the two groups to ask suppliers about the source of chopped romaine lettuce.

Consumers who have chopped romaine in their homes, including salads and salad mixes, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if no one got sick. Before buying chopped romaine in a store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm that it is not from the growing region implicated in the outbreak.

People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli two to eight days after swallowing the germ.  Most people infected with E. coli develop diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach cramps, and vomiting.  Most people recover within one week although some illnesses can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection and report your illness to your local health department. You can also write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick and talk to public health investigators if they have questions about your illness.

More information about the outbreak is available on the CDC Website by clicking here.

SOURCE: Kane County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health news releases