E. coli Breakout Strikes Again

Photo from Consumer Reports

Photo from Consumer Reports

Lindsay Mayo, Reporter

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In the last few weeks, there has been an E. coli outbreak that is tied to Romaine Lettuce. The first linked illness to this outbreak was on March 13. Fox News reports that romaine lettuce from Arizona has sickened 53 people across 16 states and 31 patients requiring hospitalization. Five of those who are hospitalized developed a kidney failure which could be life-threatening. Those who were affected range in age from 10 to 85 and 70% of them are female. E.coli is a bacteria that is mostly harmless but can sometimes cause serious foodborne illness. It is transmitted through feces and may have come from a person or an animal. You would not be able to tell whether a food is contaminated by E. coli by the way it looks, smells, or tastes. A Pennsylvania company has recalled 8,757 pounds of prepackaged salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce. Although investigators have not identified the specific source of this outbreak, they have narrowed down the area to Yuma, Arizona.

The New York Times wrote that the agency who is investigating the outbreak was first alerted about it by health officials in New Jersey, who had noticed an increase in E. coli cases in the state. Even though Minnesota was not one of the states who recorded illness, there is still caution in buying and eating Romaine Lettuce for a little while. Symptoms start 2-8 days after consuming the E. coli although most become ill 3-4 days after. Some symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most cases, home care is the main treatment for an E. coli infection. Drinking water and getting a lot of rest is the best cure and it is important to keep an eye out for severe symptoms that would result in a call to your doctor. Because the symptoms are severe and the probability of the lettuce having the bacteria is still unknown, it is best to continue to avoid eating romaine lettuce for now.