Fourteen more people have fallen ill with unsafe E. coli infections that have been traced to romaine lettuce, making this outbreak the largest in over a decade. In rare cases, people can develop a kind of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.
"This is higher than the hospitalization rate that we normally see with E. coli outbreaks, which is about 30 percent", Matthew Wise, the CDC's deputy branch chief for outbreak response, said during a media call on Friday. Other products at the farm do not seem to be contaminated. "It's coming to an end in Arizona", Pappaioanou said, so the average person may have a hard time figuring out from which area a lettuce meal came.
"We are investigating dozens of other fields as potential sources of the [tainted] chopped Romaine lettuce", Harris said.
Currently, there is no link between this strain and the one in Canada from December 2017, which sickened at least 17 people, officials said. The most recent illness began a week ago.
In all, 22 states have been hit with 98 cases of E-coli nationwide.
Three major grocery store chains in Berks County - Giant Food Stores, Weis Markets and Redner's Markets - said they get their romaine from suppliers in California and Florida, so their lettuce is safe.
Pappaioanou, an affiliate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the university, said the country's food system relies on the Arizona area, which is near the Colorado River and US border, for most of its lettuce during winter months. If there is any uncertainty as to food products' origin or type, consumers should throw it out.
The CDC said not to eat or buy any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, which is the region where the FDA believes the outbreak originated.
Disclosure: Wise works for the CDC, Harris works for the FDA. "Most people get diarrhea [often bloody], severe stomach cramps and vomiting", according to the CDC.
This is the most significant Shiga-toxin producing E.coli break out considering that a 2006 break out connected to spinach grown in the Salinas Valley in California, Wise stated. This includes lettuce in a salad mix.