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Don’t eat romaine lettuce, CDC warns

Romaine-smallIt’s no joke, although lots of social media posts are touting how chocolate and other fattening products are now better for you than lettuce.

U.S. consumers shouldn’t eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants shouldn’t serve or sell it due to an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 infections linked to romaine lettuce.

Consumers who have any romaine lettuce in their home shouldn’t eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

If you don’t know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, don’t eat it and dispose of it. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored.

Thirty-two people infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been identified in 11 states. Illnesses started Oct. 8 to Oct. 31. Thirteen people were hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Eighteen ill people were infected with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in Canada.

Epidemiologic evidence from the United States and Canada indicates that romaine lettuce is a likely source of the outbreak.

Ill people in this outbreak were infected with the same E. coli strain as ill people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada. The current outbreak isn’t related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce.

Symptoms of E. coli infection are severe stomach cramps; diarrhea, often bloody; and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually isn’t very high, less than 101˚.

Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are mild, but others are severe or life-threatening.

If you have symptoms of an E. coli infection talk to your healthcare provider.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and states are working to trace back romaine lettuce that ill people ate in the current outbreak. At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

Copyright 2018, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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