Multi-State E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Health officials have confirmed and suspected E. coli cases in Missoula, Flathead, and Ravalli counties

By Beacon Staff

State and local health department officials are investigating multiple reports of E. coli infections likely linked to chopped romaine lettuce.

According to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, three cases of E. coli illnesses are linked to a multi-state E. coli outbreak. There are also four Montana cases suspected to be part of the outbreak and further testing is pending.

The romaine lettuce is sourced from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona.

Health officials have confirmed E. coli cases in Missoula, Flathead, and Ravalli counties, including three hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report an additional 35 cases in 11 states, with 22 hospitalizations.

Symptoms of E. coli infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Some people may have a low fever, less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people infected with E. Coli 0157 are better within five to seven days.

Some infections are very mild, but others are severe and can be life threatening. Most people with an E. coli infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure.

Advice to Consumers:

Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the chopped lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the chopped romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.

Advice to Restaurants and Retailers:

Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

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