Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

North Dakota has 1st illness related to bad romaine lettuce

North Dakota has 1st illness related to bad romaine lettuce

U.S. health authorities on Wednesday reported the first death in an outbreak of Escherichia coli bacteria in romaine lettuce that has sickened 121 people across the United States.

North Dakota'sDepartment of Health did not provide any details about the age or gender of the person confirmed as being an outbreak case. Federal investigators still have not determined how, when and where the bacteria contaminated the romaine and spread to so many people and places. Of the people sickened, 52 have been hospitalized, 14 of them with kidney failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its numbers on the outbreak May 2, revealing that 121 people had gotten sick in 25 states. That's followed closely by Pennsylvania with 20, and Idaho with 11. A second case of the infection associated with romaine lettuce is under investigation.

The annual romaine harvest in the Southwest begins in November in Yuma and transitions with the weather to growing regions in southern California between mid-March and early April. More cases can be expected due to delays in onset, identification and reporting of illnesses.

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Signs and symptoms of E. coli include diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Reforms in the livestock industry have sharply reduced the number of outbreaks involving meat, but that has been offset by a surge in E. coli contamination of leafy greens. "The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads".

The outbreak is the largest in the United States since 2006, when spinach tainted with a similar strain of E. coli sickened more than 200 people.

Health officials advise consumers not eat romaine lettuce from the Yuma-Arizona region.

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