Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Tied To 9 More Illnesses, FDA Says

There is still a multi-state outbreak of E.coli illnesses linked to romaine lettuce since its first report in October by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which continues its warning to not eat any romaine lettuce harvested from the central coastal growing regions of Northern and Central California.

Since the CDC’s first announcement in October, 52 people have been infected with E.coli and since November, 9 more people have reported with illness linked to the E.coli outbreak. Of which, 19 have been hospitalized and two developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported.

The following 15 states are where the illnesses have been reported: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

In November, the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration updated their warnings of not consuming or selling romaine lettuce harvested in the following six counties of California: Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura.

“Traceback information from four restaurants in three different states so far has implicated 10 different distributors, 12 different growers, and 11 different farms as potential sources of the contaminated lettuce,” the FDA said Thursday. Even with that information, “The outbreak cannot be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester, or distributor.”

Collecting samples of soil, water, romaine lettuce and “scat samples” that were identified as potential sources, are part of the inspection process conducted by federal and state investigators on farms as well as lettuce cooling facilities. “To date, E. coli O157:H7 has not been found in any of the lettuce, soil or scat samples. Results of water testing being conducted by CDC are pending,” the FDA said.

According to the FDA, all romaine lettuce will be labeled with either a harvest location and date or hydroponic or greenhouse information and if it does not have this information, the agency says you should not eat it. And even if it does, always make sure you wash your lettuce thoroughly with clean water, recommends the agency.

There have also been outbreaks in Canada, which has prompted US agencies to coordinate efforts of investigation with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Citizens there have been warned not to eat any salads containing romaine lettuce unless they know where it came from.

It takes about three to four days for the symptoms of E.coli infection to appear after eating the bacteria and symptoms may include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, according to the CDC.

Good news is that within five to seven days people infected by the bacteria get better. However, this particular strain of E.coli in California seems to result in a more severe illness.