Although the E. coli contaminated Romaine lettuce is off the shelves in supermarkets, the effects of the illnesses caused by it are still being felt throughout the United States as four more people have died.
According to a Time report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the four additional deaths include two people from Minnesota, a person from Arkansas, and a person from New York. As the Inquisitr reported, a person from California was the first death that resulted from the outbreak. The contaminated lettuce originated in the Yuma, Arizona area.
So far, across 35 states, a total of 197 people contracted an infection from the tainted Romaine lettuce. Roughly half of the people who fell ill ended up hospitalized because of the severity of the illness. Among those who’ve been sickened by either eating the lettuce or close contact with another infected person, 26 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a type of kidney failure. The rate at which this kidney failure occurred in this outbreak is unusually high for E. coli infections.
The CDC explained that it takes two to three weeks from the time a person becomes ill with E. coli until the time the illness is reported to the CDC. Because of that lag time, people who become sick after May 6, 2018, may not be included in reports at this time.
The harvest season in Yuma, Arizona is over, and because of the 21-day shelf life of Romaine lettuce, officials do not believe that any of the tainted vegetables is on store shelves or in people’s homes at this point. If you suspect you may have E. coli infection, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Although this particular lettuce shouldn’t be a risk anymore, E. coli is almost always a danger, and steps can be taken to avoid getting ill. To prevent contamination, thoroughly wash your hands before handling or cutting fruits and vegetables, and also wash or scrub all fruits and vegetables under running water before consuming or cooking. Plus, use separate cutting boards for fruits and veggies and raw meat, seafood, and poultry to avoid cross contamination. Additionally, wash hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and having contact with animals.
E. coli can affect persons of any age, but children under five, the elderly, as well as people with compromised immune systems can be especially prone to complications from the infection, so it is essential to take careful precautions for these age groups.