The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is advising residents to not eat and dispose of store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration indicated a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157 is likely associated with chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. Three cases of E. coli in Arizona have been linked to this multistate outbreak.
“E. coli can cause serious illness, so it is critical that everyone take precautions by not eating store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, even if you or someone from you family has consumed the product and did not get sick,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “If you or someone from your family recently ate store-bought chopped romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately.”
Symptoms of E. coli O157 include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. E. coli O157 infection ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms lasting about five to seven days in most people. Young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at risk of developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening illness that can cause kidney failure.
The CDC and the FDA are also advising people that before they eat lettuce from a restaurant to confirm that the product used to prepare the meal is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. ADHS is working with local health departments, the CDC, and the FDA to confirm the source of the E. coli O157 infections, to identify additional cases, and to prevent the spread of the disease.
To prevent foodborne illness, ADHS advises everyone to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water prior to food preparation or consumption, and after using the toilet. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating or handling. Avoid cross-contamination of food during preparation by washing hands, cutting boards, utensils, and any food preparation surfaces.
For more information about preventing E. coli O157, visit ADHS online at www.azhealth.gov.