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CDC: Romaine lettuce may be tainted with E. Coli

Written by Dr. Daliah Wachs
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This week, the CDC issued a general warning that Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat.

32 people from 11 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.

The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 32 people between the dates October 8-31, 2018 and caused 13 hospitalizations, one of whom went into kidney failure.

No deaths have been reported.

On Tuesday they issued the following tweet:

CDC‏ @CDCgov

Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://go.usa.gov/xPAy5

 

On their website, the CDC reports the following:

 

CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.

  • CONSUMERS WHO HAVE ANY TYPE OF ROMAINE LETTUCE IN THEIR HOME SHOULD NOT EAT IT AND SHOULD THROW IT AWAY, EVEN IF SOME OF IT WAS EATEN AND NO ONE HAS GOTTEN SICK.
    • THIS ADVICE INCLUDES ALL TYPES OR USES OF ROMAINE LETTUCE, SUCH AS WHOLE HEADS OF ROMAINE, HEARTS OF ROMAINE, AND BAGS AND BOXES OF PRECUT LETTUCE AND SALAD MIXES THAT CONTAIN ROMAINE, INCLUDING BABY ROMAINE, SPRING MIX, AND CAESAR SALAD.
    • IF YOU DO NOT KNOW IF THE LETTUCE IS ROMAINE OR WHETHER A SALAD MIX CONTAINS ROMAINE, DO NOT EAT IT AND THROW IT AWAY.
    • WASH AND SANITIZE DRAWERS OR SHELVES IN REFRIGERATORS WHERE ROMAINE WAS STORED. FOLLOW THESE FIVE STEPS TO CLEAN YOUR REFRIGERATOR.
  • RESTAURANTS AND RETAILERS SHOULD NOT SERVE OR SELL ANY ROMAINE LETTUCE, INCLUDING SALADS AND SALAD MIXES CONTAINING ROMAINE.
  • TAKE ACTION IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF AN E. COLI INFECTION:
    • TALK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.
    • WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU ATE IN THE WEEK BEFORE YOU STARTED TO GET SICK.
    • REPORT YOUR ILLNESS TO THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT.
    • ASSIST PUBLIC HEALTH INVESTIGATORS BY ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR ILLNESS.
ADVICE TO CLINICIANS
  • ANTIBIOTICS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PATIENTS WITH E. COLI O157 INFECTIONS. ANTIBIOTICS ARE ALSO NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PATIENTS IN WHOM E.COLI O157 INFECTION IS SUSPECTED, UNTIL DIAGNOSTIC TESTING RULES OUT THIS INFECTION.
  • SOME STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT ADMINISTERING ANTIBIOTICS TO PATIENTS WITH E. COLI O157 INFECTIONS MIGHT INCREASE THEIR RISK OF DEVELOPING HEMOLYTIC UREMIC SYNDROME (A TYPE OF KIDNEY FAILURE), AND THE BENEFIT OF ANTIBIOTIC TREATMENT HAS NOT BEEN CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED.

Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.

They include:

  • Nausea
    Vomiting
    Diarrhea, may be bloody
    Fever
    Chills
    Body Aches
    Abdominal Cramps

And if progresses, can cause

  • Shortness of Breath
    Nose bleeds
    Anemia
    Dehydration
    Seizures
    Renal Failure
    Death

Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

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