Since the previous update four days ago, an additional 27 people have been confirmed sick in an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. As of today, Nov. 25, a total of 67 people are confirmed infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to advise that consumers not eat and retailers not sell any romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and whether additional products are linked to illness, according to the agency’s Nov. 22 update. The sick people are spread across at least 19 states.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Sept. 24 through Nov. 14. Ill people range in age from 3 to 89 years, with a median age of 25. Sixty-seven percent of ill people are female. Of 50 ill people with information available, 39 hospitalizations have been reported, including six people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicate that romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA and states continue to trace the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by ill people. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

This outbreak is caused by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and to romaine lettuce in 2018.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any romaine lettuce and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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