Blog Update: Multistate E. coli outbreak- Source Found: Chopped Romaine Lettuce

Infections Linked to Chopped Romaine Lettuce

This is an update of our previous blog

The CDC and the FDA reported that their information indicated that chopped romaine lettuce grown in Yuma Arizona is probably the cause of the contamination with E. coli O157: H7. A common grower had not yet been identified.

As of April 12, 2018, 35 people from 11 states (Connecticut 2; Idaho 8; Illinois 1 Michigan 1; Missouri 1; New Jersey 7; New York 2; Ohio 2; Pennsylvania 9; Virginia 1; and Washington 1) were infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. Twenty-two ill people have been hospitalized, including three people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Epidemiologic data collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce was the probable source of this outbreak. Twenty-six (93%) of 28 ill people that were interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. This percentage is significantly higher than results from common healthy people in which 46% reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were interviewed. Most of the interviewed people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting eating whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Investigations are being conducted to find the source of the chopper romaine lettuce involved in the outbreak. A common grower or brand has not yet been identified. However, the data indicates that the chopped romaine lettuce was from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.  The Yuma region supplies romaine to the U.S. during November-March each year.

The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to leafy greens reported in January this year. People in the previous outbreak were infected with a different DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

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