98 people sick as outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce expands

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The outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce has expanded, with 98 people across 22 states falling ill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.

That is 14 more people across three additional states — Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin — since the last update on Wednesday, with officials expecting more illnesses tied to the outbreak in the coming weeks.

{mosads}The CDC has warned people across the United States not to eat romaine lettuce unless they can be sure that is not from the Yuma growing region in Arizona, where the outbreak started last month. That warning remains in effect, the CDC said Friday.

Fifty-three percent of the ill people have been hospitalized, the CDC said, a higher percentage of hospitalizations than is usually found with E. coli outbreaks.

No deaths have been reported since the outbreak began.

Matthew Wise, deputy branch chief for outbreak response at the CDC, said on a call with reporters that it can be difficult for consumers to tell where romaine lettuce was grown.

“If in doubt, don’t buy it or don’t eat it,” he said.

Officials say they can’t be certain the outbreak is over and they expect more reports of illnesses because there is a two- to three-week delay in verifying that an illness was caused by E. coli.

One farm, Harrison Farm in Yuma, Ariz., has been identified as a source of lettuce in part of the outbreak, officials said. But they are also investigating more than two dozen other farms and say that contamination also could have occurred later on in the supply chain.


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