April 17, 2024

Another Romaine Lettuce E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Announced; Some May Sue

Another romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak has been announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The language from the government is very strong: “CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak.”

Romaine Lettuce E. coli O157-H7 Outbreak 112018 2

Thirty-two people in 11 states are sick in this outbreak. Thirteen people have been hospitalized. The case count by state is: California (10), Connecticut (1), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (7), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (3), New York (2), Ohio (1), and Wisconsin (1). Illness onset dates range from October 8 to October 31, 2018. One person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

It’s very important that if you have any romaine lettuce in your home you get rid of it immediately, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. E. coli O157:H7 bacteria can cluster in tiny areas in produce, especially leafy greens. It only takes 10 E. coli bacteria to make you very sick.

This means consumers should avoid whole heads of romaine, romaine hearts, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that use romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. If you don’t know whether or not the lettuce you have is romaine, throw it out.

Then you should clean your fridge to kill any remaining bacteria. Wash and sanitize the drawers and shelves in your fridge. Throw out the recalled food, empty the fridge, take out shelves and drawers, wash everything with warm, soap water, then dry with a clean towel. You can use a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of warm water to sanitize your fridge to be safe.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

You can contact lawyer Fred Pritzker for help at 1-888-377-8900.

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened in romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks, said, “Growers and producers have got to get a handle on this issue. No one should become seriously ill just because they ate a salad for lunch.”

This outbreak has also extended to Canada. Eighteen people are sick in that country with the same E. coli O157:H7 strain.

The sick people in this outbreak were infected with the same E. coli O157:H7 strain as the 2017 outbreak in the U.S. that was linked to leafy greens.

As with the romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that ended in June 2018, the government has not identified any common grower, suppliers, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce. That outbreak sickened 210 people, hospitalized 96, and killed 5 people. Twenty-seven people developed HUS. This new outbreak is not linked to the outbreak that just ended because the bacteria is different.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe and painful abdominal cramps, a mild fever, and diarrhea that may be bloody. If this infection is wrongly treated with antibiotics, or if the patient is a young child, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can develop. The symptoms of HUS include little urine output, lethargy, pale skin, easy bruising, and a skin rash. Anyone who is ill with any of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

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