A nasty strain of bacteria that can cause severe illness is what's driving a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, health officials said Friday.
Pappaioanou, an affiliate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the university, said the country's food system relies on the Arizona area, which is near the Colorado River and USA border, for most of its lettuce during winter months. Those symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.
Lab tests have shown that the type of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157:H7 involved in this outbreak "produces a type of toxin that tends to cause more severe illness, which may explain why there is a high hospitalization rate", said the CDC. In rare cases, people can develop a kind of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. While no deaths have been reported, the CDC also advised the public that more cases-and increased severity-could be later reported as more and more patients flock to local hospitals.
So far, illnesses include 18 cases in Pennsylvania, 16 cases in California, 10 in Idaho, eight cases each in Alaska and Montana, seven in New Jersey, five cases each in Arizona and Washington, three cases each in MI and OH, two cases each in Colorado, Connecticut and NY, and a single case each in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. "We'd like to emphasize that most of the illnesses in this outbreak are not linked to this particular farm", Harris said.
The US Food and Drug Administration is investigating at least two dozen farms as possible sources. "As we go through the distribution of product, we are looking for places of convergence where the contamination may have happened". The restaurants used bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. A Facebook page indicates the farms grow or have grown cotton and wheat in addition to lettuce. The agency urges not to eat any romaine lettuce unless they know it is not from the Yuma area.
Officials said romaine lettuce products from a farm in Yuma harvested between March 5 and March 16 of this year are the source of the contaminated lettuce that made eight inmates at a prison in Alaska ill. "If you have already purchased romaine lettuce or products containing romaine lettuce and can not confirm the source, throw them away". It's often hard for consumers to know where their grocery-store lettuce was produced because labels are not specific.
"At this point, we are looking at the whole spectrum" of the supply chain, said Stic Harris, director of the FDA's Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network.
Twenty-two states have reported E.coli infections linked ot the outbreak according to the CDC and FDA.
Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.