December 8, 2019

E. coli HUS Romaine Outbreak Grows to 67 Sick and 39 Hospitalized

The E. coli HUS romaine outbreak has now sickened at least 67 people in 19 states. This outbreak is growing rapidly; four days ago there were just 40 people sickened. Thirty-nine people have been hospitalized so far, and six have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

E. coli HUS Romaine Outbreak Grows to 67 Sick and 39 Hospitalized

The patient case count by state is: Arizona (3), California (4), Colorado (1), Idaho (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (4), Michigan (1), Minnesota (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (2), Ohio (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (3), Texas (2), Virginia (2), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (21). Illness onset dates range from September 24, 2019 to November 14, 2019. The patient age range is from 3 to 89 years.

Fifty people sickened in this E. coli HUS romaine outbreak had interviews with investigators about their illness and whaat they ate before they got sick. Of those people, 39 said they were hospitalized, for a hospitalization rate of 78%. Six people have developed the complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and death.

All of the epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region is the likely source of this outbreak. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand or romaine lettuce have been identified, but there have been two recalls. One recall was for Ready Pac Chicken Caesar salads in Maryland, and the other was for Missa Bay salads.

One notable mention in the CDC report is, “This outbreak is caused by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and to romaine lettuce in 2018.”

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Minneapolis food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “There are serious long term complications from an E. coli infection that can arise years later. You can contact Fred for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

The problems with romaine lettuce and other leafy greens are that they are grown right next to the soil, they are vulnerable to contamination via irrigation water and animals, they are handled often before they reach the consumer, their texture creates great places for bacteria to hide, and they are eaten without cooking.

The government continues to warn consuemrs to avoid all romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California growing region. Many products made with romaine lettuce, as well as the lettuce itself, are marked with the place of origin. But some are not. If you aren’t sure whether or not romaine lettuce you want to buy or eat is from the Salinas area, it’s better to be safe. Throw it away.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever, vomiting, severe and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody and watery. This infection can spur a complication called HUS, which is caused by toxins produced by the bacteria destroying the kidneys. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, lethargy, pale skin, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and unexplained bruises. If anyone is suffering from these symptoms, they need to see a doctor immediately. They may be part of this E. coli HUS romaine lettuce outbreak.

 

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