Romaine lettuce linked to E. coli outbreak has likely aged out of stores, restaurants

Romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, linked to dozens of infections caused by a strain of E. coli is likely no longer being sold in stores or served in restaurants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma region were harvested on April 16, 2018 and the harvest season is over, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Since last reported a week ago, 23 people have fallen ill to E. coli, bringing the total to 172 ill people from 32 states. 48 percent of those people with available information have been hospitalized, including 20 who developed kidney failure, according to the latest report from the CDC.

Now three more states have reported ill people: Iowa, Nebraska, and Oregon, the CDC said.

Newly reported cases are people who became sick two to three weeks ago, still within the window when contaminated romaine was available for sale. The latest reported illness started on May 2, 2018, officials said.

Officials have warned against continuing consumption of Romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

Locally, seven people were reported sick in New Jersey and two people were found with E. coli in New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Twenty people have been sickened in Pennsylvania and two people were reported sick in Connecticut.

One person died in California.

While most strains of the bacteria E. coli are harmless, others can cause serious illness. The strain linked to chopped romaine lettuce is a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, which can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, the CDC said.

Most people recover from those symptoms within a week, but if the illness lasts longer than usual and seems to feel more severe, symptoms of the E. coli infection must be reported to a doctor or health professional, the agency said.

E. coli infections also can spread from one person to another through germs on hands. To help prevent infection, the CDC suggests to wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, and before and after preparing or eating food.

This investigation is ongoing and health officials will provide more information as it becomes available.