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Several cases of E. coli illness in Montana linked to romaine le - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Several cases of E. coli illness in Montana linked to romaine lettuce

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 1:57 PM Updated:

State and local public health agencies in Montana are investigating several reports of E. coli O157 illnesses linked to chopped romaine lettuce sourced from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona. 

Three cases in Montana are confirmed to be linked by laboratory testing to a multi-state outbreak and four more are suspected and further testing is pending.

Confirmed and suspected cases have been identified in Missoula, Flathead, Lincoln, and Ravalli counties and include three hospitalizations, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services.

The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says that an additional 35 cases, including 22 hospitalizations, in 11 states have been identified.

Symptoms of E. coli O157 infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a low fever, less than 101°F/38.5°C. Most people get better within 5 to 7 days.

Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening. Most people with a E. coli O157 infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

Advice to Consumers:

  • Consumers who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the chopped lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
  • Before buying romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, you should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the chopped romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.

Advice to Restaurants and Retailers:

  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
  • Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

The FDA website has a complete overview of the situation, including this summary:

  • The CDC reports that 35 people in 11 states have become ill. These people reported becoming ill in the time period of March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018. Twenty-six (93%) of 28 people interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.
  • Preliminary information collected by FDA, in conjunction with federal, state, and local partners, indicates that the chopped romaine lettuce that ill people ate was likely grown or originated from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona. No specific grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified at this time.
  • The FDA recommends that consumers ask restaurants and other food service establishments where their romaine lettuce originated, and avoid chopped romaine lettuce that originated from Yuma, Arizona. If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it. If you have already purchased products containing chopped romaine lettuce, including bagged salads, salad mixes, or prepared salads, throw them away.
  • The FDA is continuing to investigate this outbreak and will share more information as it becomes available.
  • Consumers who have symptoms of STEC infection should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care. Although many infections resolve in 5-7 days, they can result in serious illness, including a potentially serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
  • The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections from November to December 2017 linked to leafy greens consumption. People in the previous outbreak were infected with a different DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
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