The current romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak is the most widespread E. coli outbreak of any kind in 12 years in the United States, according to numbers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Wednesday update.
And the CDC still pegs Yuma, Arizona-grown romaine lettuce as the outbreak's source. Of the sick people interviewed, 95.5 percent reported eating romaine lettuce during the week before falling ill.
With another 31 sick from E. coli O157:H7 since last Wednesday, the CDC now counts 84 people sick, with 42 hospitalized. That's the highest number of people sick in an E. coli outbreak since the 2006 outbreak that sickened 199 and put 102 in hospitals.
Nine people in the current outbreak have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the form of kidney failure that can turn E. coli into a killing disease. No deaths have been reported.
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The ages of the sick range from 1 to 88; 65 percent are female. The people fell ill between March 13 and April 12, although the lag time between eating, sickness and reporting means there might be people infected after April 5 yet to be reported.
E. coli sickens people within two to eight days of eating the contaminated food. Most people suffer from bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting for five to seven days.
The CDC warns consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce unless you can be sure it's not grown in the Yuma region. Don't eat it in restaurants; throw it out if you have it at home.
No warnings or advisories have been issued about romaine lettuce grown elsewhere — a Chipotle on Northwest 36th Street had no lettuce Tuesday while it awaited a shipment from California — although the CDC advises if you're not sure about your lettuce, toss it.
To date, 19 states have been affected. Pennsylvania still has the most cases, 18, and with New Jersey's seven, is part of the biggest cluster of sick cases.
California exploded from one case to 13. There are 10 cases in Idaho and seven in Montana. Arizona has five. Ohio has three. New York, Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan and Washington have two each. Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota and Virginia each have one.
The CDC counts only five sick from Alaska, though Alaska's Department of Health reported eight cases last week, all at the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. Upon learning that the ill inmates ate whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce last week, the CDC expanded its warning beyond just chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona.