E. coli cases reported in MA after outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

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Officials are investigating the cause of the outbreak and are warning people to avoid eating romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ region. At least 52 other people have been hospitalized, including 14 with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations.

According to an update from the CDC yesterday, there have now been 121 cases across 25 states.

Of the 25 affected states, California, Pennsylvania, and Idaho have been hit the worst.

The announcement came on the same day as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one person died in California, and romaine lettuce may be to blame. It's caused by a Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 that produces only Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2)-the more unsafe of the two toxin types.

Janice Haney Carr  CDC via AP
Janice Haney Carr CDC via AP

OR has not been listed as one of the affected states and no resident has reported any illness relating to the E.coli outbreak.

Bill Marler, a Seattle-based food safety lawyer who has been involved in food-borne illness lawsuits for decades, said it's striking that federal investigators still have not explained how, when and where the bacteria contaminated the romaine and spread to so many people and places. "I mean, candidly, that's ridiculous", Marler said.

The CDC has also advised consumers not eat lettuce from the Yuma region and urges people to inquire about the source of their lettuce before purchasing. Numerous people sickened across the country consumed chopped lettuce that had been sold in bagged form to restaurants. But it added that the death was among 24 cases of illnesses in the state linked to the salad staple.

That includes chopped romaine, romaine in salad mixes, baby romaine, romaine hearts, and whole heads of romaine. There are delays in reporting and confirming cases linked to this specific strain of E. coli, and the CDC noted that cases involving people who became sick on or after April 11 may not be reported.

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