New E. Coli Outbreak Linked To Romaine Lettuce Has Now Affected 23 States, Including Illinois

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CHICAGO (CBS)A new E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce is growing – with cases now in 23 states.

Illinois is one of the states, but only one person has fallen ill in Illinois in the latest outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indiana has not recorded any cases.

But Wisconsin has recorded more cases in this latest outbreak than any other state, with a total of 31. Altogether, 102 people have fallen ill nationwide.

As CBS News’ Johny Fernandez reported from New York on Sunday, shoppers have been checking the labels on romaine lettuce to make sure it is not linked to the E. coli outbreak.

“I never thought to check where the lettuce was from, so I’m glad to hear about this,” said shopper Joanne Galley.

The FDA said the number of people sick has increased from 67 to 102 just in one week. A total of 58 people have now been hospitalized with E. coli-related illnesses, and 10 have developed kidney failure.

No deaths have been reported.

“The romaine lettuce which is infected with the e coli can cause an intestinal illness,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It prominently diarrhea but also abdominal cramps and just feeling very, very poorly.”

The CDC said romaine grown in or near Salinas, California is likely the source of the outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration warned late last month that if the voluntary label reads “Salinas” – whether alone or with the name of another location in addition – you mustn’t eat it. It must be thrown away or returned to the store.

This particular E. coli strain is also linked to a 2018 outbreak that prompted a warning against eating any romaine lettuce at all across the country.

The CDC is advising consumers to look at labels to find out where the lettuce is grown. That information should be found on the package or on a sticker.

In addition to avoiding the Salinas-grown romaine, the CDC said not to eat salad mixes or wraps that could contain the lettuce. The CDC also warned that washing or cooking romaine from Salinas will not make it safe, so just toss it.

Most people infected with E. coli O157:H7 develop diarrhea that is often bloody. Some illnesses last longer and can be severe – and kidney failure can occur in rare cases.

E. coli does not usually produce a fever, so some people may not be aware they even have an infection.

Health experts said it is very important to see a doctor if you’ve eaten romaine and then become sick with an intestinal illness.

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