E. Coli Outbreak Reaches Minnesota, With Ten Cases Reported

10 Minnesotans Sickened by Contaminated Lettuce

An E. coli outbreak stemming from romaine lettuce illness has spread to Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

That brings the total to 149 victims in 29 states, but there have been no additional deaths. One person from California is dead as a result of the infection. Unfortunately, particular brands of romaine lettuce aren't always labeled to indicate where they are grown. "It's the largest one that we've had since 2006, and 14 people have developed what's known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is acute kidney failure", food safety lawyer Bill Marler told NPR. Those who have fallen ill range in age from 1 to 88, and 65 percent of them are female. Two out of three have been women. "Our romaine is sourced from Salinas, California, where there have not been any reports of contaminated lettuce". "This advice includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce". However, the CDC's warning not to eat romaine unless it's known not to be from Yuma remains in effect. Symptoms of the most recent illnesses reported began April 25. The Food and Drug Administration then traces the many channels the lettuce took from the field to point of sale, she said.

"Do not eat, buy, or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region", said Kirk Smith, a manager of the foodborne diseases unit at the Minnesota Department of Health.

"Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli O157 infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli O157 infection is ruled out", the CDC said. That outbreak was caused by a similar strain of the bacteria, which tends to cause more severe illness, the CDC said.

Because labels on romaine lettuce do not often list growing regions, it can be hard for a consumer to tell whether the lettuce they are purchasing is part of the outbreak. "You're going to have a lot of diarrhea, a lot of stomach cramps and staying hydrated is going to be a challenge".

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So far there have been ten cases in Minnesota which have been linked to eating romaine lettuce.

According to the CDC, 28 more people from 12 states have gotten sick since the last update on May 2. But there is a 21-day shelf life for romaine, the agency says, so there might still be lettuce in the supply chain.

Federal officials first warned of the problem in April after people started getting sick from greens they ate March 22 to 31. Following the May 6 report on one case in North Dakota, also not yet included in the national count, it appears the romaine outbreak continues to expand.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coliinfection or HUS after consuming food and you're interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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