Calif. death reported in romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

Pat Wise
May 3, 2018

The first death has been reported in a national food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.

The CDC said a person in California died, but they did not elaborate any further.

Three more states - Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah- have reported cases, the CDC said in an email. Among the 52 people who have been hospitalized in the current outbreak, 14 developed HUS.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the multi-state E. coli outbreak linked to contaminated romaine lettuce has resulted in its first death.

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So far, illnesses include 24 cases in California, 20 cases in Pennsylvania, 11 in Idaho, eight cases each in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana, seven in New Jersey, six in Washington, four cases each in Georgia and MI, three in OH, two cases each in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and NY, and a single case each in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region".

The agency's update said 121 illnesses spanning 25 states have been reported, with cases now in Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah. "Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, do not eat or buy romaine lettuce if you do not know where it was grown", the CDC warns.

Health officials traced the source to the tainted lettuce to in Yuma, Arizona. Pennsylvania has claimed 20 cases, and Idaho 1 1; over eight years have not been reported by any other state. Considering that lettuce only has a shelf life of about two weeks or more, by this time the lettuce you see at your grocery store likely came from California. Fourteen of the infected patients have been hospitalized with kidney failure. The most recent illnesses reported began experiencing symptoms April 21. The CDC advises anyone with these symptoms to seek medical attention as E. coli infection is typically diagnosed via a stool sample.

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