Ten people in Minnesota are now part of the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak, that has sickened at least 121 people in 25 other states, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Two of those sickened in Minnesota have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections.
“With 10 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 infection, two of whom have HUS, Minnesota is one of the states hardest hit by this outbreak,” said E. coli lawyer Fred Pritzker, founder of Minneapolis-based Pritzker Hageman, a national food safety law firm that is representing clients in this outbreak.
Only three states have reported more cases of illnesses in this outbreak than Minnesota: California (24), Pennsylvania (20) and Idaho (11), according to the most recent information from the CDC. Cases reported in other states are as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (8), Colorado (2), Connecticut (2), Georgia (4), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (4), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Montana (8), New Jersey (7), New York (2), Ohio (3), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (6), and Wisconsin (1).
On average, about 135 cases of E. coli O157 infection are reported in Minnesota each year. In this outbreak, case-patients reported onset of illness dates ranging from April 20 through May 2. Some of them consumed the lettuce at restaurants and residential facilities, others reported buying romaine lettuce at grocery stores. Health officials know that lettuce was grown in Yuma, AZ but they have not zeroed in on a specific brand or brands and have not named the restaurants and residential facilities that served the contaminated greens. However, E. coli lawsuits that have been filed in connection with this outbreak have named Panera Bread and Red Lobster.
Health officials continue to warn consumers not to eat romaine lettuce unless they are sure that it was not grown in the Yuma region which includes part of western Arizona and the Imperial Valley of southeastern California, but does not include Salinas Valley or other growing regions in California, according to said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases section at MDH.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that romaine is no longer being distributed from Yuma, but because it has a 21-day shelf life some of may still be in the food supply.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection include stomach cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. These symptoms usually develop within two to five days of exposure and last about a week. Diarrhea associated with E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this may promote the development of HUS.
Between 5 percent and 10 percent of E. coli patients develop HUS, which can be fatal. Children, seniors, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who develops symptoms, which usually appear one week after initial onset of illness, needs immediate emergency medical care. These symptoms include:
- Pale skin
- Unexplained weakness
- Decreased urination
- Unexplained bruises or bleeding
The E. coli lawyers at Pritzker Hageman have represented clients in nearly every major food poisoning outbreak over the last 20 years including this one. If you or a loved one have been sickened by E. coli, contact them for a free, no-obligation consultation.