Multistate E. coli outbreak traced to lettuce from Arizona

Posted: Updated:
Chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, area is thought to be the source of the outbreak. (Photo: BW Folsom/Shutterstock) Chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, area is thought to be the source of the outbreak. (Photo: BW Folsom/Shutterstock)
(AP) -

The Centers for Disease Control says a multistate E. coli outbreak that has sickened nearly three dozen people is linked to lettuce grown in Arizona.

The CDC said Friday that 35 people across 11 states have become ill from chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma.

Twenty-two of them have been hospitalized, including three with kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The agency has not identified a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand.

But officials advise that consumers, restaurants and retailers should throw out any chopped romaine lettuce that came from the Yuma area.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

Yuma is about 185 miles (298 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix.

Yuma bills itself as the "winter lettuce capital" and hosts an annual Lettuce Festival.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is advising residents to not eat and dispose of store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce.

“E. coli can cause serious illness, so it is critical that everyone take precautions by not eating store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, even if you or someone from you family has consumed the product and did not get sick,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “If you or someone from your family recently ate store-bought chopped romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately.” 

Symptoms of E. coli O157 include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. E. coli O157 infection ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms lasting about five to seven days in most people. Young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at risk of developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening illness that can cause kidney failure.

The CDC and the FDA are also advising people that before they eat lettuce from a restaurant to confirm that the product used to prepare the meal is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. ADHS is working with local health departments, the CDC, and the FDA to confirm the source of the E. coli O157 infections, to identify additional cases, and to prevent the spread of the disease. 

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