Published: Thu, May 03, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

First death reported in romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

First death reported in romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

The Center for Disease Control has reported the first death from an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. The California office of Public Health confirmed the death but wouldn't provide more details, citing privacy legislation.

According to the CDC, 23 more cases were reported since Friday, bringing the total to 121 illnesses across 25 states, with 52 hospitalizations that include 14 cases of kidney failure.

But the CDC continues to emphasize that consumers should confirm that any lettuce they buy or eat did not originate in the Yuma region. This strain of E. coli is especially virulent, hospitalizing 43% of those infected.

The outbreak, which started March 13, has Americans avoiding romaine from the Yuma, Ariz., region, the suspected culprit of the outbreak.

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Marler notes that, following a 2006 E. coli outbreak involving baby spinach that killed three people and sickened almost 200 others, the CDC made it a priority to be able to trace the origins of food-poisoning cases. The agency specifically cites chopped and bagged lettuce as the concern. Product labels often don't identify growing regions. This advice includes chopped romaine, whole heads, hearts of romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce.

Health officials warn that washing your lettuce does not offer enough protection. "Washing it doesn't make it safe". All romaine from the farm linked to Alaska's cases was harvested between Mar 5 and Mar 16, and health officials said last week that the facility is now growing grass. "If you can not confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it". People get sick within two to eight days of swallowing the germ, which causes diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

If this infection is treated improperly, or if the patient is young, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) may appear.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

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