May 9, 2018

E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce spreads to another state

The E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce is now in 26 states.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and public health agencies in other states to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections associated with eating romaine lettuce.

Information on the national outbreak can be found on CDC’s and FDA’s websites: CDC: E. coli and FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce from Yuma Growing Region.

Ten cases of E. coli O157 infection in Minnesota residents have recently been identified and linked to the multi-state outbreak. Illness onset dates range from April 20 through May 2. The cases are from both metro and greater Minnesota counties; 90 percent are female. Three cases were hospitalized, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal complication that can include kidney failure and other severe problems.

All of the Minnesota cases interviewed by public health investigators reported exposure to romaine lettuce. Reported exposure locations include restaurants, grocery stores, and residential facilities. MDH is working with MDA to further investigate these exposures.

“Do not eat, buy, or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region,” said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases section. “The Yuma growing region includes part of western Arizona and extends into the Imperial Valley of southeastern California, but does not include Salinas Valley or other growing regions in California.” Product from the Yuma growing region should no longer be on sale; however, individuals should check their refrigerators for romaine lettuce that may have been grown in the Yuma region.

Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O157 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this period can range from one to eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coliO157 infections sometimes lead to HUS. Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli O157 include children younger than 10, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

Diarrhea associated with E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of HUS. Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider.

Approximately 135 cases of E. coli O157 are reported each year in Minnesota. More information on E. coli O157 and how to prevent it can be found on the MDH E. coli website.