Washington E.coli cases linked to romaine lettuce

While most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, some produce toxins that can cause severe illness. But that number has soared to 84 as now 19 different states have reported illnesses related to E. coli poisoning stemming from romaine lettuce. In rare cases, people can develop a kind of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. According to the CDC, ages range from 1 to 88.

"Most of the illnesses linked to the Romaine outbreak are not linked to the Romaine lettuce from (the Yuma) farm". "If you have symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting, we urge you to contact your healthcare provider".

Forty-six people have been hospitalized, including 10 with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations. Most people can prevent E.coli by properly handling food and practicing good hygiene.

"This is serious, and everyone should avoid romaine", Wise said, adding that the advice to consumers is for everyone - not limited to specific groups such as those most at risk for severe illness.

And while the tainted romaine lettuce is believed to have actually stemmed from the Yuma area, "item labels frequently do not determine growing areas; so toss out any romaine lettuce if you're unsure about where it was grown", the company stated in its caution.

Pappaioanou, an affiliate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the university, said the country's food system relies on the Arizona area, which is near the Colorado River and US border, for most of its lettuce during winter months. Because the growing season in the Yuma region is at its end, the farm is not growing any lettuce at this time. First recognized as a food borne pathogen in 1982, E.coli has the ability to produce Shiga toxin, which can inhibit protein synthesis in cells that line the interior of blood vessels.

Stic Harris, DVM, MPH, director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE), said whole-head romaine linked to illnesses in Alaska, which occurred in eight people at a correctional facility, came from Harrison Farms of Yuma, Ariz.

The whole-head lettuce from Harrison Farms was harvested from March 5-16 and is past its 21-day shelf life. Dozens of other possible sources are being investigated. "We are looking at each grower or shipper or supplier to see if there is a convergence". The agency urges not to eat any romaine lettuce unless they know it is not from the Yuma area.

Twenty-two states have reported E.coli infections linked ot the outbreak according to the CDC and FDA.

The government now has reports of 98 people who got sick in 22 states.

  • Delores Daniels