Almost 100 Sickened by E.Coli-Tainted Romaine Lettuce

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The food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has spread to three more states. There is no evidence that any other type of lettuce, as well as romaine lettuce grown outside the Yuma Arizona region, is causing the outbreak.

The reported strain of E. coli, which produces poisonous substances known as Shiga toxins, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Doctors say this strain of E. coli is especially unsafe because it produces a toxin that could lead to kidney complications.

Ten of the hospitalized patients have developed a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Usually, illness sets in "an average of three to four days after swallowing the germ". The move is underway, and some farms in Yuma have completed their season, but the FDA said it can not confirm that no more lettuce is being shipped from the region based on the information it has from industry organizations.

The national E. coli outbreak that has been linked to contaminated romaine lettuce has worsened, as more than 30 new cases have been reported.

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They advise people not to eat romaine lettuce unless they can be sure that it's not from the Yuma growing region in Arizona. Other products at the farm do not seem to be contaminated. Harris said the farm's romaine season is over, and it is now growing grass. "Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten".

On April 20, the CDC warned Americans to toss out any romaine lettuce they might have bought in stores.

"CDC is advising consumers not to eat or buy romaine lettuce if they do not know where it was grown", the agency wrote in an e-mail message to media outlets. First recognized as a food borne pathogen in 1982, E.coli has the ability to produce Shiga toxin, which can inhibit protein synthesis in cells that line the interior of blood vessels.

"At this point, we are looking at the whole spectrum" of the supply chain, said Stic Harris, director of the FDA's Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network. A 2006 episode, the last multi-state outbreak larger than the current one, was traced to spinach and linked to 238 illnesses and five deaths, according to the CDC. This advisory includes whole heads, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. Then, 26 states were affected and 199 people got sick. "Everybody should be concerned, and everybody should be avoiding romaine [lettuce]".

The outbreak first began in April.