4 More E.coli Deaths Linked to Romaine Lettuce, CDC Says

by Kim Boateng Posted on June 1st, 2018

‎Atlanta, Georgia, USA: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), updated it’s advice to consumers regarding the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce on Friday. 4 more people have died from the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce and twenty 25 more people have taken ill. The E. coli outbreak has affected 197 people across 35 states, and killed 5.

The four more deaths were reported from Arkansas (1), Minnesota (2), and New York (1).

It takes two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported to CDC. Most of the people who recently became ill ate romaine lettuce when lettuce from the Yuma growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, or in peoples’ homes. Some people who became sick did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had close contact with someone else who got sick from eating romaine lettuce.

“Information collected to date indicates that romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region could have been contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 and made people sick.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018, and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people’s homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life.” CDC says.

CDC Advice to Consumers

  • If you have symptoms of an E. coli infection, take action and talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Follow steps to help keep you healthy and your fruits and vegetables safer to eat.
  • Read more on general ways to prevent E. coli infection. An important step is to wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.

CDC Advice to Clinicians

  • Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli O157 infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli O157 infection is ruled out.
  • CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections.
  • 197 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 35 states.
    • 89 people have been hospitalized, including 26 people who have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
    • 5 deaths have been reported from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and New York (1).
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified people in several Canadian provinces infected with the same DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7.
  • This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

CDC Advice On Prevention Of E.coli (Escherichia coli)

Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals.

Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

What are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli?

Some kinds of E. coli bacteria cause disease when they make a toxin called Shiga toxin. The bacteria that make these toxins are called “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli,” or STEC for short.

How can I prevent a STEC infection?

  • Know your chances of getting food poisoning. People with higher chances for foodborne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS
  • Practice proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler, before touching an infant or toddler’s mouth, and before touching pacifiers or other things that go into an infant or toddler’s mouth.
    • Keep all objects that enter infants’ and toddlers’ mouths (such as pacifiers and teethers) clean.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (check the product label to be sure). These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and running water.
  • Follow the four steps to food safety when preparing food: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.

  • Cook meats thoroughly:
    • To kill harmful germs, cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C) and allow to rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.
    • Cook ground beef and pork to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (70˚C).
    • Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe internal temperature because you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at its color.
  • Don’t cause cross-contamination in food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
  • Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
  • Don’t swallow water when swimming and when playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

Author

Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

With a Degree in Environmental Sciences, Kim the self professed jack of all trades and master of some simply "goes there" and brings a level of attention and detail to Nigeria Circle's quest for excellence in investigative journalism that sets her apart. Before journalism she worked in Safety, Quality Assurance and Control in several industries.
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