April 15, 2024

Idaho Hard Hit in E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Linked to Chopped Romaine Lettuce

Idaho has been hard hit in the multistate E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak that the CDC has linked to chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona area. Eight people in that state are ill with this serious infection.

Idaho Romaine Lettuce E. coli HUS Outbreak

Three of those patients have been hospitalized; two have developed a type of kidney failure that sometimes occurs with this infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). All of the patients told investigators that they ate romaine lettuce in the 10 days before they got sick.

All of the patients are adults between the ages of 20 and 55. No deaths have been reported in this outbreak.

While government officials believe that the lettuce came from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, no specific grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. And no restaurant or grocery store chain that may have sold or carried the product has been identified. Only pre-chopped romaine is linked to this outbreak. Whole heads of romaine, and romaine hearts are not considered problematic at this time.

So public health officials are telling all consumers to avoid eating pre-chopped romaine lettuce from that region until further notice. The problem is knowing if the romaine lettuce you are eating came from that area.

Investigators do know that many of those sickened ate the chopped romaine at restaurants in Idaho and other states. Some of the patients did eat the lettuce at home.

Pre-chopped romaine lettuce is sold in restaurants, delis, supermarkets, and specialty food stores throughout Idaho and the rest of the country. It may be found in some bagged salad or lettuce blends. If you don’t know whether or not the chopped romaine lettuce you may have purchased came from the suspected region, just throw it out, even if someone has eaten some of the product and has not gotten sick.

One of the issues with this bacteria is that it only takes 10 of them to make you sick. Thousands of bacteria can fit on the head of a pin. So one leaf in a bag could be contaminated, but the rest safe to eat. You can’t see, smell, or taste the contamination, and it doesn’t affect the flavor or texture of the greens.

The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection are obvious and serious. Most people suffer severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, accompanied by diarrhea that is bloody and watery. If this infection is improperly treated with antibiotics, HUS can begin.

The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome, which usually start a few days after the E. coli symptoms start, including little or no urine output, lethargy, pale skin, and easy bruising. Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.

The noted law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food such as the I.M. Healthy product protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our experienced lawyers represent patients and the families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against grocery stores, retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for a young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. You should know that class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are very unique.

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