November 21, 2020

Third E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak May Be Linked to Romaine

At the end of October the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA announced two distinct E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that were not linked to any one food or facility. One may have been associated with romaine lettuce, and the other may have been associated with a restaurant. Today the FDA announced a third E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least twelve people in five states that may be associated with recalled romaine lettuce.

The patient case count by state is: California (2), Illinois (4), Michigan (2), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), and Virginia (1). Five people have been hospitalized. The last illness onset date was October 14, 2020.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development found E. coli O157:H7 bacteria on a sample of Tanimura & Antle single head romaine lettuce on November 6, 2020. Whole genome sequencing found that the pathogen matches the strain that has caused illnesses.

Tanimura & Antle recalled single head packaged romaine lettuce on November 6, 2020 for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. It has a pack date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020 and the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9. Still, the FDA states that “there is not enough epidemiologic and traceback evidence to determine if ill people in this outbreak were exposed to romaine lettuce from Tanimura & Antle, Inc. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

This strain of E. coli O157:H7 is a third distinct strain that is not genetically related to the strains causing the other two Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks. The first two outbreaks were caused by E. coli bacteria that were genetically related to strains that caused romaine outbreaks in 2018 and 2019.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with food poisoning, you can contact attorney Fred Pritzker for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

Noted food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients sickened with this pathogen in lawsuits, said, “It is very unusual to have three unsolved E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks at the same time. We hope that these outbreaks are resolved quickly so fewer people will get sick.”

The Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce was distributed to these states: Alaska, Oregon, California, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois, and the territory of Puerto Rico. It may have been distributed further to other states, including Michigan.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include a fever, vomiting, severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is usually bloody and watery. People start getting sick a few days after eating food contaminated with the pathogen.

If you have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. You may be part of this third E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

By submitting a comment, you are contacting Pritzker Hageman, P.A. An attorney may contact you to ask if you would like a free consultation regarding your foodborne illness.

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