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CDC alert: Do not eat romaine lettuce Bacteria can prove fatal for people with compromised immune systems By TROY MASTERS For people with compromised immune systems, salmonella and e-coli can be fatal, which makes today’s news especially alarming. “Romaine lettuce contains a particularly dangerous type of E. coli,” warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 20. “It has been deemed unsafe to eat in any form” after a nationwide outbreak of illnesses was linked to it.” The CDC says that 32 people have been infected with the outbreak strain in 11 states, including 13 who have been hospitalized, as on Nov. 20. One of the hospitalized victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure. No deaths have yet been reported. Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing HUS, and a benefit of treatment has not been clearly demonstrated. The CDC says that people have become sick in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. Canada’s Public Health Agency has identified 18 more people who have become sick with the same strain of E. coli in Ontario and Quebec. The CDC warns: • If you have any romaine lettuce at home, you should throw it away, even if you have eaten some and did not get sick. •  This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. •  If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

• Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine. Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection: • Talk to your healthcare provider. • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick. •  Report your illness to the health department. •  Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness. All types and brands of romaine lettuce are suspect because no common grower, supplier, distributor or source company has been identified by the CDC. Thus both

retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve romaine lettuce until more is known about the outbreak. The CDC says: “Symptoms of E. coli infection, which usually begin about three or four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Most people infected by the bacteria get better within five to seven days, though this particular strain of E. coli tends to cause more severe illness. “Children under 5, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with chronic diseases, are more likely to develop severe illness, but even healthy children and adults can become seriously ill.

Illnesses started in October. This outbreak is not related to a multistate outbreak linked to romaine lettuce this summer,” the CDC reports. Earlier, Jennie-O Turkey recalled more than 91,000 pounds of raw turkey in an ongoing salmonella outbreak. The recall is the first tied to an outbreak the U.S. Department of Agriculture says is widespread and likely affects a number of different producers in the industry. So far this year, the outbreak has resulted in one death and 164 reported illnesses in 35 states. About half of those sickened had to be hospitalized. Salmonella has also been detected in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, an indication the bacteria is widespread in the turkey industry.

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