7 in WA sickened by E. Coli outbreak linked to lettuce

7 in WA sickened by E. Coli outbreak linked to lettuce

"We have many lines of evidence suggesting to us right now that all of these illnesses are connected in some way through romaine grown in the Yuma region [of Arizona]", Matthew Wise, the CDC deputy branch chief for outbreak response, said recently.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its numbers on the outbreak Wednesday, revealing that 149 people in 29 states had gotten sick.

A farm in Yuma, Arizona was affirmed as a general source of whole-head romaine which sickened eight inmates in Alaska however, FDA officials say they aren't certain if the contamination occured in the field or in the packaging and distribution side. Illnesses reported in the last 2 to 3 weeks may not be included due to the time between when a person gets sick with E. Coli and when that illness is reported.

The outbreak that began in March has now spread to almost 30 states, affecting 149 people.

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Epidemiologist Brenton Nesemeier says suppliers stopped shipping out of the Yuma Valley shortly after the outbreak started, and its growing season is already over. Including Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and North Dakota are the newest states to report illnesses.

Because labels on romaine lettuce do not often list growing regions, it can be hard for a consumer to tell whether the lettuce they are purchasing is part of the outbreak.

Romaine lettuce has a 21-day shelf life, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, particular brands of romaine lettuce aren't always labeled to indicate where they are grown. Most people develop bloody diarrhea and cramps for five to seven days.

Sixty-four percent of the people who have been infected are female and those infected range in age from 1 to 88 years old, with a median age of 30. It may be that a more virulent strain of E. coli is to blame, she said, or that the lettuce was contaminated with many bacteria. The first deathrelated to the outbreak was reported in California last week. Three people were hospitalized, and two developed a potentially fatal complication that can include kidney failure.

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