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Yuma E. coli outbreak: 5 confirmed cases in Arizona, new warnings issued

Posted at 2:55 PM, Apr 20, 2018

The Arizona Department of Health Services has issued a warning to residents to not eat romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region after five confirmed cases have now been identified in the state. 

Four cases have been found in Maricopa County and another from Pinal County related to the multi-state outbreak.

On Friday afternoon, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded it's warning to consumers to cover all types of romaine lettuce, now including whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

Romaine lettuce has been linked to the growing number of people hospitalized due to a multistate E. coli outbreak. 53 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli in 16 states since March 13, the CDC said. Thirty-one of those ill have been hospitalized. Five of them developed a type of kidney failure associated with an E. coli illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening. No deaths have been reported.

"We recommend people throw out and do not consume whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine at this time," said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "E. coli can cause serious illness, so it is critical that everyone take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. If you or someone from your family recently ate romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately." 

According to the CDC, symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. Infection ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms lasting about five to seven days in most people. The most susceptible to the illness are young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised people.  

The CDC and FDA are also advising people that before they eat romaine lettuce at a restaurant or grocery store, to ask and confirm that is was not grown in the Yuma region.