The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 31 other people have become ill after eating. An investigation is underway to determine the source of the vegetable, but officials say it likely comes from the Yuma, Arizona region.
As of Wednesday night, there are 84 cases covering 19 states, according to the CDC. No one has died since health officials began giving updates on April 18. Colorado, Georgia and South Dakota were the three new states added to the list on Wednesday.
Officials say that the romaine lettuce in stores and restaurants is now from California and not from the region where the contaminated lettuce originated.
CDC advises clients, restaurants
- Do not eat or buy romaine lettuce unless you can confirm that it is not from the growing region of Yuma, Arizona.
- Avoid whole heads and romaine hearts, chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.
- Product labels often do not identify growth regions; therefore, do not eat or buy romaine lettuce if you do not know where it grew.
Map of the CDC showing the number of diseases
Pennsylvania has seen the highest number of diseases, a total of 18, followed by California with 13 and Idaho with 10, according to the CDC.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC says 42 people have been hospitalized so far, including nine people who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Most people develop symptoms such as diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting. – and recover within a week.
"What worries me right now is an unusually high hospitalization rate," said Bill Marler, a food safety attorney.
He represents Louise Fraser,claiming that she contracted E. coli after eating romaine lettuce at one of her restaurants in New Jersey and, as a result, was hospitalized for weeks. She says she was diagnosed with kidney failure, which required several blood transfusions. Now he's suing both the restaurant and his supplier, Freshway Foods, Inc.
"The restaurant, the grocery store is responsible for any of the foods they sell," Marler said. "If it is contaminated with a pathogen, it is defective, the distribution chain that provided that is the final responsible."
Panera Bread officials told "CBS this morning" that they "do not comment on pending litigation," but said they "have resupplied with romaine from other regions."
Freshway Foods Inc. has not responded to the CBS News comment request.
Consumer Reports advises people to avoid all romaine lettuces because "It is not realistic to expect consumers to discover if their romaine was produced in Arizona."