COCA Now: UPDATE: Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Chopped Romaine Lettuce

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UPDATE: Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Chopped Romaine Lettuce

What's New?


Case Count Update

Since the last update on April 13, 2018, 18 more people were added to this outbreak.

As of April 18, 2018, 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 16 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018 to April 6, 2018. Ill people range in age from 10 to 85 years, with a median age of 34. Seventy percent of ill people are female. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, including five people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. This is a higher hospitalization rate than usual for E. coli O157:H7 infections, which is normally around 30%. Health officials are working to determine why this strain is causing a higher percentage of hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after March 29, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks.

Investigation Update

State and local health officials continue to interview ill people to ask about the foods they ate and other exposures before they became ill. Forty-one (95%) of 43 people interviewed reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 46% reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were interviewed. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Information collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified at this time. Read CDC’s advice to consumers, restaurants, and retailers.

This investigation is ongoing, including work to identify the source of the romaine lettuce. CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.

To read the full investigation notice, click here. For additional resources, including epi curves, case counts maps, advice to consumers, restaurants, and retailers, as well as the notice in Spanish, click here. For more information about Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and steps that people can take to reduce their risk of infection, click here.