At least 98 people across 22 states have contracted the bacteria from romaine lettuce as of Thursday, the agencies said in a teleconference call. Fifty-three percent of patients have been hospitalized, which is a very high percentage for any E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
Montana and New Jersey each informed the CDC that they had seven cases, while Alaska and Arizona identified five instances. Most people recover in a week, but some can be hospitalized with more serious health problems and take longer to recover.
The CDC says people should not be eating or buying romaine lettuce unless they know for a fact that it is not from Yuma, AZ.
The Washington Post reported the story of a 16-year-old girl from California who was rushed to hospital in severe pain and has been diagnosed with kidney failure as part of this outbreak. However, FDA inspectors have not yet visited the farm and have not been provided details such as the specific location of the field where the implicated romaine was grown.
Though the growing season in Yuma, AZ, the apparent source of the outbreak, is over, experts said they couldn't be sure the threat had passed.
When people become sick with a gastrointestinal illness, it's important to maintain good hygiene and clean hands with paper towels instead of regular hand towels, to avoid spreading the bacteria to others, according to Dr. Fertel.
This E. coli outbreak is now the largest since 2006, when more than 200 people fell ill after eating contaminated spinach. This advisory includes whole heads, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. The symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fever. Romaine confirmed not to be from the Yuma area is OK to eat.
Hereditary screening reveals that the E.coli pressure associated with the break out produces a particular kind of "Shiga contaminant" that triggers more extreme disease, Wise described.
If you or a loved one have been sickened with an E. coli O157:H7 infection or HUS, please contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900. Most people get sick from the bacteria three to four days after consuming it.