December 11, 2018

Romaine Lettuce E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Has Sickened 121; One Death Reported From California

The multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 HUS infections that is linked to romaine lettuce has grown again. Now 121 people in 25 states have been sickened by this pathogenic bacteria. One person, in California, has died. Fifty two people, or 51% of the patients, have been hospitalized. Fourteen people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

E coli Romaine Lettuce Outbreak 5218

Twenty-three more ill persons from 10 states were added since the last update last week. Three more states have been added to the case count: Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Utah.

Investigators are still searching for the source of lettuce that sickened most of these patients. They identified Harrison Farms in Yuma, Arizona as the source of whole romaine heads that sickened eight people at the Anvil Mountain Correctional Facility in Nome, Alaska. The chopped romaine that was the initial clue in this outbreak also came from Yuma, Arizona, but officials have not been able to pinpoint a farm or distributor.

The case count by state is: Alaska (8), Arizona (8), California (24), Colorado (2), Connecticut (2), Georgia (4), Idaho (11), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (4), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Montana (8), New Jersey (7), New York (2), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (20), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Virginia (1), Washington (6), and Wisconsin (1). The patient age range is still from 1 to 88 years.

Of 102 with information available, 52, or 51%, have been hospitalized, which is a very high rate. Since 14 people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, that rate is almost 14%, which is higher than the typical rate of 5 to 10% for most E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks.

Attorney Brendan Flaherty

Brendan Flaherty said, “This outbreak is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s important to avoid romaine lettuce unless you are sure you know where it comes from. If you are sick, please see a doctor.” You can contact Brendan, an attorney with Pritzker Hageman, at 1-888-377-8900.

The most recent illness began on April 21, 2018. This outbreak will likely keep growing, since it can take a few weeks from the time a person starts feeling ill until they go to the doctor, are diagnosed, and that illness is reported to public health officials.

The CDC is still saying that consumers should not buy or eat romaine lettuce unless you can absolutely confirm that it did not come from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. Product labels usually do not identify where the produce came from. This advice includes chopped romaine, whole heads, hearts of romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce.

Symtoms of an E. coli infection are unmistakable. In fact, the multiplier for this illness is just 2, which means that half of the people who get sick do see a doctor. Symptoms include bloody and watery diarrhea, and serious and painful abdominal cramps.

If this infection is treated improperly, or if the patient is young, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) may appear. This complication is a type of kidney failure, and can cause loss of the kidneys and death. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, lethargy, pale skin, easy bruising, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone with these symptoms must see a doctor immediately.

Long term complications of an E. coli infection and HUS are serious. Some patients need kidney transplants, others may need dialysis, and others may suffer strokes.

Bad Bug Law Team | Pritzker Law Firm

If you or a loved one have been sickened with an E. coli O157:H7 infection or HUS, please contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900.

 

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people harmed by adulterated food products in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of foodborne illness, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes Food Poisoning Bulletin. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including CNN, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. You should know that class action lawsuits are usually not appropriate for outbreak patients, since every case is different.

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