Romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California, has sickened at least 102 people in 23 states, as well as two additional people in Canada, with Escherichia coli (E.coli) infections. Those affected fell ill between mid-October and early November 2019. Fifty-eight people were hospitalized and 10 developed E.coli-related kidney failure. No one has died from the illness.
Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada are investigating the outbreak. E.coli is a bacteria that can cause serious, life threatening illnesses. All those sickened in both the U.S. and Canada tested positive for a similar strain of E.coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC). Health officials have traced the illnesses to romaine lettuce from Salinas using epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback evidence collected.
Consumers are advised not to eat, and retailers and food service establishments not to sell or serve, any romaine lettuce harvested from California’s Salinas growing region.
People usually get sick from STEC two to eight days after ingesting the bacteria. Symptoms usually involve severe diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Diarrhea is often bloody. There is usually little or no fever present. Most people recover within a week. However, some people who become sick with E.coli develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
In March 2018, romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region was identified as the source of a multistate outbreak of E.coli infections that sickened dozens of people across the U.S. with STEC.