CDC Ramps Up Romaine Warnings After E. Coli Death

One dead in E. coli outbreak; source of romaine still a mystery

The California Department of Public Health confirmed the death to CBS News but did not provide any additional details, citing patient privacy laws.

There were 23 new cases, including one death in California, announced Wednesday, bringing the total number of sick people to 121. One Arizona farm has been linked to E. coli in whole head romaine, but at least two dozen locations are under investigation. The CDC is urging consumers to avoid whole lettuce heads, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce grown in Yuma. Those infected may develop diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

The most recent of the illnesses began on April 21.

Other states reporting people sickened by E. Coli include Washington, Michigan, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and MA. However, in some people, such as children under five, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems, the disease can progress into a sometimes-fatal form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Investigators from the Food and Drug Administration have not yet determined where the vast majority of the suspect romaine was grown.

The current outbreak is tied to romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona, although health officials have not pinpointed a particular grower, supplier, distributor or brand connected to the outbreak.

Twenty-three more ill persons from 10 states were added since the last update last week.

"Illnesses that occurred after April 11, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported".

The FDA is continuing to investigate the source of the chopped romaine lettuce that caused these illnesses and has identified dozens of other fields as possible sources.

The agency also warned restaurants not to serve romaine lettuce to customers.

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