Romaine E. coli Outbreak Expands, 52 Sick, 2 with HUS Kidney Failure

The romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak has expanded to included 52 people in 15 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Nineteen people have suffered such severe illness they needed hospitalization including two people who have developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death.

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HUS Symptoms

Symptoms of HUS usually appear about seven days after the initial symptoms of an E. coli infection. They include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urination
  • Pale skin
  • Small, unexplained bruises
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, face or body

Anyone with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

Romaine Outbreak Expands

Since the CDC’s last outbreak update on November 26, 2018, nine illnesses have been confirmed to be part of this outbreak. The people sickened in this outbreak range in age from 1 to 84. About 83 percent of them reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they became ill. They have reported onset symptoms ranging from October 5, 2018, to November 18, 2018.

The outbreak also includes 27 cases in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Health officials say the outbreak strain of E. coli is the same strain responsible for a 2017 E. coli outbreak linked to leafy greens in the U.S. and romaine lettuce in Canada. In the U.S., 25 people were sickened and one person died. Investigators were never able to determine the source of that outbreak, a problem they are also having with this one.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been able to determine that the lettuce linked to this outbreak was grown in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. But the agency has not been able to identify a common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce.

The CDC and the FDA warn that consumers should not eat romaine lettuce from California’s Central Coastal regions. Romaine lettuce on the market now is supposed to be labeled with information about where it was grown and harvested. Romaine lettuce without this information should not be purchased, served, sold or eaten.

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