Yuma E. Coli Outbreak More Virulent Than Most, CDC Says

The outbreak is blamed on O157:H7 strain of E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated 3 more states- Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin- have actually been struck by the break out, bringing the overall variety of afflicted states to 22.

Four other people also appear to be sick from E. coli in Placer County, but it is still unclear if those are connected to the contaminated Romaine lettuce or not.

Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce. If you think you may be ill from consuming romaine lettuce, contact your family doctor or a healthcare professional.

Karns offers perennial words of wisdom: "When eating raw vegetables and fruits it's a good idea to wash it. They need to be washed before eaten".

"They clean it, bag it and distribute it across the country - that's how we get that multiple-state outbreak", Pappaioanou said.

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After news of the outbreak was first made public a week ago, people used social media to express their surprise that they were being warned off lettuce, and make jokes about healthy eating. CDC is advising consumers not to eat or buy romaine lettuce if they do not know where it was grown.

46 people have been hospitalised, while officials say cases from the last few weeks may not have been reported yet. State health officials this week had advised anyone with romaine in their refrigerator, including whole or chopped varieties, to throw it away. Wise said the pattern is typical for E coli strains that only produce Shiga toxin type 2 (STX2), and that the 2006 outbreak linked to fresh spinach also involved the same STX2 profile, resulting in a similarly higher proportion of severe illnesses.

More than 50 percent of those who fell ill from the tainted lettuce have been hospitalized, including 10 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. Most people recover in a week, but some can be hospitalized with more serious health problems and take longer to recover.

Symptoms included stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, the CDC said. Children under the age of 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness, including HUS, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.

In most cases, this bacteria is harmless, and helps in the digestion of food.


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