Health Care

E.Coli outbreak spreads; more than 80 people sickened — CDC

E.Coli outbreak spreads; more than 80 people sickened — CDC

At least 50,000 acres worth of lettuce, including romaine, comes straight from Yuma, Arizona.

Concerns over E. coli continues to grow after an outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Arizona spreads across 19 states now including right here at home.

Additionally, three more states have been affected - Colorado, Georgia, and South Dakota. No deaths have been reported, and no food product or company has been forced to initiate a recall.

According to the CDC, 265,000 people get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli strains like the one involved in this outbreak every year.

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"What's concerning me at this point is there's an unusually high hospitalization rate", said Bill Marler, a food safety lawyer who is representing Louise Fraser, who is suing Panera Bread.

According to the Georgia Department of Health, the teen was hospitalized after eating salad containing romaine from a few different restaurants in the area. Nine patients developed kidney failure.

"We then began replenishing with products from other regions", he said.

Despite narrowing down the region where the contaminated lettuce appears to have come from, health officials still have not identified the source (s) of the romaine lettuce.

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Don't take chances - if you are not sure what romaine lettuce is or what it looks like, do not eat it.

Symptoms of E. coli infection usually develop between 2-8 days after contact with the bacteria. Most are gone within a week, but some can last longer and be more severe, the CDC said.

Since lettuce is suspected to be the cause of the current outbreak, would it help to wash your greens before eating? However, the CDC has also shown that leafy vegetables were responsible for 22 percent of foodborne illnesses between 1998 and 2008. As bagged lettuce and salad mixes become increasingly popular along with a spike in plant-based diets, the process in which farmers clean salads can actually trap bacteria inside the plants, where washing is of no help.

The search for the source of the outbreak is ongoing.

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