HEALTH ALERT UPDATE: 67 People Infected, 39 Hospitalized Due to E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

HEALTH ALERT UPDATE: 67 People Infected, 39 Hospitalized Due to E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

The Centers for Disease Control advises that consumers not eat and retailers not sell any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, CA, growing region after finding that 67 people have been infected and 39 hospitalized due to the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7.

As of today (Wednesday, Nov. 27), no deaths have been reported, but six of the people who were hospitalized have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

Infections have been reported in 19 states, including Illinois.

Officials say most romaine lettuce products are labeled with a harvest location showing where they were grown.

The warning includes all types of romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA, such as whole heads of romaine, organic romaine, hearts of romaine, romaine in salad wraps, and packages of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

If there is no label, officials say you should simply not buy that romaine lettuce. Similarly, if you have romaine lettuce at home that indicates it is from the Salinas growing region, or you don’t know where it is from, do not eat the lettuce and throw it out.  Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture, as well as public health and regulatory officials in other states to investigate the outbreak.

“Tens of thousands of people get sick every year in the U.S. from foodborne illnesses, and approximately 3,000 die,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “We will continue to work with state and national health officials to investigate this ongoing outbreak in an effort to prevent additional cases and potential deaths.”

Additionally, Missa Bay, LLC. has recalled ready-to-eat salad products that contain meat or poultry because the lettuce may be contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7.

The ready-to-eat products subject to the recall can be found on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website. These products were distributed in Illinois as well as in 21 other states. If consumers still have these products in their refrigerators, they should throw them out.

The investigation is ongoing to determine other potential sources of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness.

Symptoms of infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.  Anyone with symptoms, especially if they are severe, should seek medical care and alert medical providers that you have recently eaten romaine lettuce.  More information can be found on the IDPH website, E. Coli page.

SOURCE: Illinois Department of Public Health news release

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