Most of the lettuce that had E. coli O157 were from the Yuma, Arizona area.
The struggle to identify the origins of the E. coli outbreak, which has sickened people from Washington state to New Jersey, highlights the difficulty of tracking a pathogen through a complex food supply chain, said a produce safety expert at Washington State University. The numbers stand in close comparison to the outbreak associated with fresh spinach in 2006.
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The sick count in the states not mentioned above: Alaska and Arizona, eight each; Georgia, five; MI and NY, four each; OH and MA, three each; Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and Wisconsin, two each; Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia, one each. Numerous other illnesses are linked to chopped romaine lettuce. It also caused growers and retailers to form auditing groups known Leafy Green Marketing Agreements in California and Arizona. Including Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and North Dakota are the newest states to report illnesses. The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on April 25, the CDC said. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure and recover in five to 10 days.
The number of people infected by the romaine lettuce could still increase, due to cases after April 17.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people to throw away any lettuce from the region.
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Critzer said that ideally, the investigators will be able to isolate the strain of E. coli from the source and use DNA sequencing to match it with those who got sick.
The growing region has since shifted into California, leaving consumers, grocery stores and experts alike hopeful for an end in sight. It has pinned its hopes on the fact that sales are over for Yuma, AZ romaine. The ill people range in age from 1 to 88 years old.
Three of the patients were hospitalized, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal complication that can lead to kidney failure.
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