Coli tainted lettuce in US sickens 98

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An update today from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows 98 people are now ill from E. coli as a result of eating romaine lettuce from Arizona, with the percentage of hospitalizations remaining high at 47%.

The E. coli bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting and cramps.

Although not one of those affected by the outbreak has died, 10 patients developed a risky form of kidney failure, the agency said.

Most of the people who are sick have lived in California or Pennsylvania, but at least one case has been reported in 22 different states. The types of E. coli that cause illness can be spread through contaminated water or food, or through contact with infected animals or persons, the CDC says. Additionally, "we'd like to emphasize that most of the illnesses in this outbreak are not linked to this particular farm", Harris said.

Washington and local public-health officials continue to investigate the patients' sickness in King and Spokane counties.

"As a family-owned company with long standing roots in Yuma, we are heartbroken to learn that romaine lettuce from our farm has been linked to a group of individuals in Alaska sickened by E. Coli". However, there are more than two dozen other farms under investigation as possible parts of this latest outbreak.

"When I was farming, I was the one that would harvest the lettuce myself", Bush said.

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Based on information from growers, federal officials said they can't guarantee there are no more romaine products now coming out of the Yuma growing region. A Facebook page indicates the farms grow or have grown cotton and wheat in addition to lettuce.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have yet to identify a brand, manufacturer, supplier or farm as the source of the E. coli contamination.

While the tainted romaine lettuce is thought to have originated from Yuma, Ariz., "product labels often do not identify growing regions; so throw out any romaine lettuce if you're uncertain about where it was grown", the agency said in its warning.

This is now the largest E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak since 2006 in the United States. That includes whole heads, hearts, chopped romaine, salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.

The issue began when federal inspectors traced the outbreak back to the Yuma, Arizona, region, a robust area of a state that is responsible for a lot of the produce that we eat across the country.

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