Death Linked To Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak

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Health officials have reported the first death in connection with a nationwide E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce.

MI is included in the multi-state recall with two known infections, the CDC reports that the death was reported in California in its latest update.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said two cases have been reported in MA but no additional information was immediately available.

California now leads the nation with 24 cases, followed by Pennsylvania with 20 and Idaho with 11.

From 2010 through the current outbreak, nine outbreaks have been caused by green lettuce or sprouts, compared with 12 from all other food groups, including meat, flour and prepared products, the CDC reports.

The most recent of the illnesses began on April 21.

The weeks-long E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce has killed one person and expanded to half of the USA states. "This takes an average of two to three weeks", the CDC reported Wednesday.

Of those affected, 63 percent are women and they range in age between 1 and 88 years old with a median age of 29. In fact, the multiplier for this illness is just 2, which means that half of the people who get sick do see a doctor. That outbreak was limited to an Alaska prison. It can be fatal on rare occasions with cancer patients, people with HIV or elderly patients who have a harder time fighting off the illness.

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"The remainder of illnesses in this outbreak are not linked to romaine lettuce from Harrison Farms". Romaine harvest at the farm concluded March 16, according to the FDA. However, the agency has not determined where in the supply chain the contamination occurred. However, the investigators think most of the cases are from romaine not grown at that particular farm.

Last month, United States authorities took the unusual step of telling people to throw out any romaine lettuce they had, and not eat it unless they were sure it was not from the Yuma, Arizona area which grows most of the romaine lettuce sold in the country during winter.

The CDC reports its investigation points to chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region as the potential culprit.

If a product label doesn't identify the growing region or a restaurant can't confirm its lettuce's origin, consumers should avoid romaine altogether.

Normally people consume romaine lettuce nearly raw, which would otherwise terminate the germs.

The agency is also advising restaurants and retailers not to "serve or sell" any romaine from that area.

"If you do not know whether lettuce is romaine, do not eat it".

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