CDC: Romaine Lettuce Linked To E Coli Outbreak

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NEW JERSEY – When you’re at the Thanksgiving table, and someone is serving salad, you should toss it out if it has romaine lettuce in it, the Centers for Disease Control said.

There have been 32 cases of e coli reported in 11 states, the CDC reported. The illnesses began anywhere from Oct. 8 to Oct. 31. It has not yet been fatal, but 13 people have been hospitalized. Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada has identified 18 cases in Ontario and Quebec.

These cases all seem to be linked to romaine lettuce consumption. However, there was no common source of the lettuce, so the CDC said to throw out all of it.

Anyone who has romaine lettuce in their homes or businesses should throw it out, the CDC reported. It should be tossed even if some of it has been eaten and you think it might be harmless. This includes whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

If you’re unsure whether there’s romaine in a salad mix, don’t take the chance, the CDC said. If in doubt, throw it out.

Photo courtesy CDC

Furthermore, people should wash and sanitize any surfaces that the lettuce touched.

Because it takes two to three weeks for an illness to be reported, there could still be more cases out there, the CDC said.

Symptoms vary for different people, but can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening. Most people start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something tainted with the bacteria, although it can start as soon as one day and as late as 10 days.

If you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine, contact your healthcare provider. You should also report your illness to the local health department and write down what you ate in the last week.

This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.