Coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce turns deadly

In April 2018 US authorities took the unusual step of telling people to throw out any romaine lettuce they had and not eat it unless they were sure it was not from the Yuma Arizona area

There have been 121 cases in all - 52 hospitalizations and now the outbreak has touched 25 states. One Arizona farm has been linked to E. coli in whole head romaine, but at least two dozen locations are under investigation.

So far, infections associated with the outbreak have been detected in states all around country, with the most cases appearing in California, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Montana. Montana has reported eight people that have fallen ill since the outbreak started March 13. It's caused by a Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 that produces only Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2)-the more unsafe of the two toxin types.

Health officials have tied the E. coli outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, which provides most of the romaine sold in the USA during the winter.

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"We are working to identify multiple distribution channels that can explain the entirety of the nation-wide outbreak, and are tracing back from multiple groupings of ill people located in diverse geographic areas", he added, according to the Los Angeles Times. Lettuce has a shelf life of only a couple of weeks at most, and any romaine lettuce on sale in stores today is likely not from Yuma and is not implicated in this outbreak. But investigators have not specified when and where that lettuce became contaminated with the risky bacteria, and the farm has not been linked to other cases.

Citizens are urged to avoid eating any romaine lettuce unless it can be confirmed not to be from Yuma. But even if no one is eating tainted lettuce now, case counts may still rise because there's a lag in reporting. In the most recent update, the FDA says that the agency has not been able to determine where in the supply chain contamination of the lettuce occurred.

"If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it", the CDC warns.

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