22 states now affected by a dangerous outbreak of E. coli romaine lettuce disease – The Denver Post



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that 14 more people have been made sick by the E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce, bringing the total to 98 people in 22 states.

The latest figures make this the largest outbreak of E. coli since 2006, when the contaminated baby spinach was the culprit.

Three more states have reported sick people: Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Forty-six people out of 87 in whom information is available, or 53 percent, have been hospitalized. Ten of those who developed severe kidney failure.

Laboratory tests have confirmed that the strain of the deadly E. coli O157: H7 bacterium that causes this outbreak produces a type of toxin that tends to cause more serious disease, which may explain why there is a high rate of hospitalization. No deaths were reported, the CDC said.

The search for the origin of the outbreak is ongoing. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration say that the growing region of Yuma, Arizona is the source, and the FDA has identified a farm there as the source of the romaine lettuce that sickened eight inmates in Alaska. Because the growing season in Yuma is coming to an end, that farm no longer grows lettuce, officials said, who are still investigating about two dozen farms in the Yuma region and other businesses along the chains. of national supply.

Lettuce contaminated with this strain of E. coli was supplied to restaurants and retailers of many different processors, producers and shippers, the agency said.

Harrison Farms whole lettuce was harvested from March 5 to 16 and has already passed its 21-day shelf life. Researchers have not determined where pollution occurred in the supply chain, whether in the stage of cultivation, harvest, packaging or distribution, which caused the illness of those inmates.

Stic Harris, director of the FDA's response and outbreak evaluation network, told reporters on Friday that investigators have not yet gone to the farm to see what else is growing. But he added: "We are not seeing any other product involved."

A person answering the phone in Harrison Farms hung a Washington Post reporter twice after identifying himself as a member of the media. A Facebook page indicates that farms grow or have grown cotton and wheat in addition to lettuce.

The Yuma area grows most of the lettuce harvested in the United States during the winter months, but officials say lettuce is now in stores or restaurants, probably from the Central Valley of California or the Valley of Salinas and has not been involved in the outbreak. No other type of lettuce or lettuce grown outside the Yuma region has been implicated in the outbreak, authorities said.


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