"We have many lines of evidence suggesting to us right now that all of these illnesses are connected in some way through romaine grown in the Yuma region [of Arizona]", Matthew Wise, the CDC deputy branch chief for outbreak response, said recently. Of 102 people with information available, 52 (51%) have been hospitalized, including 14 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.
Illnesses that occurred in the last two to three weeks might not yet be reported, the CDC says.
Texas is among the four new reporting illnesses in a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. The two strains are not related, though the earlier outbreak was also coincidentally linked to romaine lettuce.
The Minnesota Department of Health cautioned Minnesotans against eating romaine lettuce unless they are able to ascertain that it is not from the Yuma region, an area that includes western Arizona and southeastern California.
About 135 cases of E. coli are reported in Minnesota each year, according to the MDH. One death was reported in California. Thus far, the outbreak has hit people in 25 states, eventually prompting the CDC to tell people to just stop eating romaine lettuce entirely.
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Romaine lettuce is displayed on May 2, 2018 in San Anselmo, California.
The romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak shows little sign of slowing with 28 people confirmed ill in the last week and four states, including Florida and Texas, recording their first cases. The common symptoms are diarrhea, which often is bloody; severe stomach cramps; and vomiting.
The FDA has identified one farm as the source of the whole-head romaine lettuce that sickened several people at a correctional facility in Alaska. The growing season in Yuma ended about a month ago, said the University of Arizona's Russell Engel, the director of Yuma County's cooperative extension service, but investigators have yet to isolate a possible brand or supplier.
All of the lettuce in question from this farm was harvested during March 5-16 and is past its 21-day shelf life. The spinach outbreak resulted in at least 199 E. coli infections across 26 states.