From the WebMD Archives

June 29, 2018 -- Contaminated canal water in Yuma, AZ, led to the outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce this spring, according to the CDC.

The outbreak is over, it said in a news release Thursday.

Since the outbreak was first announced on April 10, tainted lettuce has sickened 210 people in 36 states. Ninety-six people were hospitalized, 27 developed kidney failure, and five died. California had the most reported cases, 49.

During the outbreak, the CDC urged restaurants and stores not to sell romaine, and consumers were urged not to eat it.

CDC researchers found that the identified strain of E. coli in the water samples was closely related to the strain found in people who became sick from eating contaminated lettuce. Researchers are continuing to test other environmental samples from the area. It is unknown how the bacteria entered the water supply and contaminated the lettuce.

The last of the Yuma lettuce was harvested on April 16, the CDC says. Because the harvest season has ended, lettuce from this outbreak is no longer a threat.

The CDC recommends these tips for avoiding E. coli infection:

  • Wash your hands, especially after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing/eating food, and after contact with animals.
  • Don’t prepare food for others when you are sick.
  • Cook meat thoroughly to kill germs.
  • Clean food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, and cooking utensils after preparing raw meat.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Avoid raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products.

Show Sources

CDC: “Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce (Final Update)," “E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce – Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, Retailers, and Clinicians.”

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