Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

E. coli cases rise, but it's 'unlikely' contaminated lettuce still available

E. coli cases rise, but it's 'unlikely' contaminated lettuce still available

An E.coli outbreak that has sickened almost 150 people in 29 states so far is likely to worsen, according to an update Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Romaine lettuce is displayed on a shelf at a supermarket in San Rafael on April 23, 2018. Iowa and OR also reported their first lettuce-related E. coli cases in the past week.

The outbreak-which has been linked to one death-has been traced to tainted romaine lettuce grown in Arizona's Yuma Valley region.

The agency said the latest illnesses began May 2. Of the 157 people who were ill that the CDC has information on, 75 have been hospitalized and 20 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the form of kidney failure that can be fatal.

Farmers in California reported a drop in romaine lettuce sales since the outbreak was reported.

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Another lawsuit, one of at least two filed against Red Lobster, claims that Rosalie Styles consumed a Caesar salad made with romaine lettuce at a Red Lobster restaurant in Peoria, Arizona, in late March.

"It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people's homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life", the FDA said Wednesday, an update from previous advice to avoid romaine lettuce unless it's confirmed to be from outside this growing region.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the bacteria strain behind the outbreak tends to cause more serious illnesses. "The last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018, and the harvest season is over".

But an agriculture expert working for the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture said technology may offer solutions that may deter similar outbreaks from happening. "Most people get diarrhea [often bloody], severe stomach cramps and vomiting", according to the CDC.

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