More People Sickened by Romaine Lettuce E. coli Outbreak
Even as romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona, is off store shelves, four more people have reportedly died from the tainted lettuce in Arkansas, Minnesota and New York. The first death related to this massive, nationwide food poisoning outbreak was reported in California. According to a report in The New York Times, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the case count to 197 people from 35 states. The total number of people who have died as a result of this virulent strain of E. coli is now at five. The source has yet to be located.
The Danger Has Passed
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials said the romaine now for sale on grocery store shelves is safe to eat. The growing season in the Yuma, Arizona region, which produced the tainted lettuce ended on April 16. FDA officials say all contaminated produce from Yuma has worked its way out of the food supply and is no longer available for consumption. And as a result, any immediate risk to consumers is gone.
The FDA is also still working to trace the source of the outbreak. While they have traced the toxic E. coli strain to the Yuma growing region, they are still looking for the exact source. That means they still need to determine if the bacteria originated in the water supply, harvesting equipment or in a processing plant elsewhere.
Severe Illnesses Reported
Despite alarming news of these additional deaths, federal officials say all the illnesses were contracted when the lettuce was still being sold in stores. Typically, there is a time lag between when someone is sickened and the CDC is notified. Some of the patients had not contracted the illness through the lettuce, but from contact with others who had consumed it.
This strain of E. coli also left several victims with kidney damage. The most common symptoms are bloody diarrhea and severe stomach cramps. With this outbreak, 26 developed a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, which causes kidney failure. Many others who became sickened also had to be hospitalized because of the severity of their condition.
If You Have Been Sickened
If you have suffered the effects of food poisoning, it is important that you get prompt medical attention and treatment. Report your illness to your local healthcare agency and contact an experienced food poisoning lawyer who can help you secure maximum compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, permanent injuries and pain and suffering.