Another 27 people have contacted E. coli after eating romaine lettuce in the last four days alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Tuesday.
That brings the total sickened by the current outbreak to 67 people across 15 states.
So far, 39 people that have been hospitalized, six of whom have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
There are no deaths reported.
The CDC says it’s the same E. coli strain, O157:H7, tied to previous outbreaks, including the one from last Thanksgiving.
The agency issued the same advisory as it did last week, warning people to avoid romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California, which has been linked to the illnesses.
In the current outbreak, 67 have been sickened, including 39 people hospitalized – six of whom have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (file image)
Illnesses related to the current outbreak began on September 24 with the most recent occurring on November 14.
The states where cases have been identified include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Those who’ve gotten sick range in age from three to 89 years old.
E. coli (Escherichia coli) are bacteria that generally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals.
Most strains are harmless but a few, particularly E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe infections.
According to the Mayo Clinic, O157:H7 produces a powerful toxin, called Shiga toxin, which damages the lining of the small intestine.
Infections occur from coming into cont act with the feces of humans or animals or eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms typically include bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting that generally last five to seven days.
The CDC estimates E. coli O157:H7 causes 265,000 illness, 3,600 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in the US annually.
Most people can recover without treatment, although there are cases in which people develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.
This is a condition in which there is an abnormal destruction of blood platelets and red blood cells.
The damaged blood cells can clog the kidney’s filtering system, resulting in life-threatening kidney failure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This is the same strain that sickened at least 59 people in 15 states after they ate romaine lettuce from California last fall.
‘Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence collected to date indicate that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, growing region may be contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 and is making people sick,’ the CDC wrote in a press release.
Officials urged Americans not to eat the leafy green if the label doesn’t say where it was grown.
They also urged supermarkets and restaurants not to serve or sell the lettuce, unless they´re sure it was grown elsewhere.
The warning applies to all types of romaine from the Salinas region, include whole heads, hearts and pre-cut salad mixes.
It’s not clear exactly why romaine keeps popping up in outbreaks, but food safety experts note the popularity of romaine lettuce and the difficulty of eliminating risk for produce grown in open fields and eaten raw.