E. Coli Outbreak: Update
As of May 16, 2018, 172 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in 32 states. 75 people have been hospitalized, including 20 people who developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a type of kidney failure. One death has been reported.
According to the FDA, "The last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018 and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in stores or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life."
The culprit: Romaine lettuce
· CDC is expanding its warning to consumers to cover all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads containing romaine
· Do not buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona growing region
· Unless the source of the product is known, consumers anywhere in the U.S. who have any store-bought romaine lettuce at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick
· The expanded warning is based on information from newly reported illnesses in Alaska, who reported eating lettuce from whole heads of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region
Escherichia coli (E. Coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals.
· Most are harmless and are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract
· Some types of E. coli bacteria cause disease when they make a toxin called Shiga toxin
· The bacteria that make these toxins are called “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli”
· The most common of these is E.coli O157, which annually causes 265,000 illnesses, 3,600 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths in the U.S.
Transmission: E. coli O157:H7
· Can be shed in the feces (poop) of cattle, poultry and other animals, contaminating the water supply used to irrigate crops
· Can contaminate fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground if improperly composted cattle manure is used as a fertilizer
· Can contaminate ground beef during the butchering process, if it is present in the animal’s intestines
· Can be found in unpasteurized dairy products and juices
· An individual infected with E. coli can transmit it to other people through improper hand washing after using the bathroom
Symptoms: Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
· Very bad stomach cramps
· Diarrhea, often bloody
· If there is fever, it is usually less than 101˚F
· Monitor for symptoms of kidney failure: decreased urination, fatigue, pale color
· Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection. There is no evidence that treatment with antibiotics is helpful, and taking antibiotics may increase the risk of kidney failure
Prevention: People with higher risk for food-borne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems.
Practice proper hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly:
· After using the bathroom and changing diapers
· Before and after preparing or eating food
· After contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, home)
· Before preparing and feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler, before touching an infant or toddler’s mouth, and before touching pacifiers or other things that go into an infant or toddler’s mouth
· If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer