Coli Outbreak Tied to Romaine Lettuce

Coli Outbreak Tied to Romaine Lettuce

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration indicated a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157 is likely associated with chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Ariz. growing region.

Eighteen people from five states have been added to the CDC's romaine lettuce investigation since the agency first alerted the public to the E. coli outbreak on Friday, bringing the total to 53 people sickened in 16 states.

Still the CDC is recommending anyone with bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to throw it away.

Five of the 31 hospitalized have developed kidney failure. No deaths had yet been reported.

More illnesses have been reported in connection with an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.

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New cases were reported to the CDC in Arizona, Alaska, California, Montana and Louisiana.

The CDC is also putting restaurants on notice, telling all restaurants across the country to ensure their romaine lettuce does not come from the Yuma, Arizona, area and to confirm with their distributors that their lettuce products have not been grown in the area. In 2006, a nationwide outbreak involving contaminated baby spinach sickened more than 200 people.

Before buying romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, officials urge consumers to confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The 8,757 pounds of recalled salads were produced between April 9 and April 12 and sold in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, but one strain known as E. coli O157: H7 produces a toxin called Shiga which destroys red blood cells and causes kidney failure and bloody diarrhea.

According to the CDC, this takes an average of two to three weeks. "At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine". The US Department of Agriculture said, "Fresh Foods Manufacturing Co., received notification from their romaine lettuce supplier that the romaine lettuce used by the establishment in the products was being recalled due to E. coli O157:H7 concerns". Those most at risk for E. coli illness include the very young, the very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Written by Nicole Chavez for CNN.

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