First death reported from E. coli-contaminated romaine lettuce as outbreak spreads

Riley Steinbrenner  The Badger Herald

Riley Steinbrenner The Badger Herald

The Food and Drug Administration said most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten.

"State and local health officials continue to interview ill people to ask about the foods they ate and other exposures before they became ill", the CDC reports in its update.

The unusually high hospitalization rate of 51 percent shows the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 is particularly unsafe.

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) announced a California resident has died as a result of the Yuma, AZ-linked E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

Here is a complete list of states with cases: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The agency is also advising restaurants and retailers not to "serve or sell" any romaine from that area.

Most people recover from E. coli on their own after a few days.

The CDC is investigating the source of the outbreak, and said last week that it has identified at least one farm, Harrison Farms of Yuma, Arizona, that may have been a source of the germ. Of the 121 infections, information for 102 cases are available, and among those 102 cases there are 14 individuals who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

As previously reported, data indicates that the contaminated romaine lettuce originated from the Yuma, AZ, growing region. The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on April 21, the CDC said.

HUS can lead to kidney failure, which itself can be fatal.

The latest illness onset was April 21, and the CDC said infections occurring after April 11 might not be reported yet, due to the average 2- to 3-week interval between symptom onset and case reporting. "This includes salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce", says the CDC.

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