Information from an mini-outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in an Alaska prison led the Centers for Disease Control to expand its warning about romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona, in the current E. coli outbreak that has spread to 16 states.
Now, the warning, which had been focused on chopped romaine lettuce, covers all varieties of romaine lettuce from Yuma.
▪ "This warning now includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine."
▪ Don't buy romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eat it at a restaurant unless you can confirm it's not from the Yuma region.
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▪ If you have romaine lettuce at home, unless you definitely know it was not grown in the Yuma region, throw it out. If you're not sure if the lettuce is romaine, throw it out. This should be done even if people have eaten some of the lettuce without becoming ill. Wash the area where the lettuce was stored.
▪ Restaurants and retailers should not sell romaine lettuce from the Yuma region.
The CDC says the new information comes Alaskans suffering from E. coli who ate whole head romaine lettuce from the Yuma region. According to the Alaska Department of Health, the state's eight E. coli cases were among inmates at the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. As the Marler Clark law firm pointed out in this Thursday blog, eight infected people in the same place make tracking the cause easy.
The CDC's Wednesday update that stated 53 confirmed E. coli cases in 16 states included only one for Alaska. With the additional seven illnesses, that national number is now at 60: Pennsylvania, 12; Idaho, 10; Alaska, 8; New Jersey, 7; Montana, 6; Arizona, 3; New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, 2 each; California, Virgina, Washington, Illinois, Missiouri, Louisiana, one each.
Symptoms from E. coli tend to start within one to 10 days of infection. They can last from five to seven days and be as mild as bloody diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Or, they can cause the person to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure that can be fatal.
None of the Alaska cases have been hospitalized, keeping that national total at 31, still a high hospitalization percentage (51.7 percent) for an E. coli outbreak. Five of those 31 have developed HUS.