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BREAKING: CDC, FDA recommend not eating any romaine lettuce after multi-state E. coli outbreak

The CDC has reported that there has been a new outbreak of cases of E. coli tied to romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce is displayed at a grocery store on May 2, 2018 in San Anselmo, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that people stop eating all romaine lettuce until further notice, after a multistate outbreak of E. coli.

What are the details?

The CDC has advised anyone who has romaine lettuce at home to “throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.”

The FDA reiterated this advice, saying: “People should not eat romaine lettuce until more is known about the source of the contaminated lettuce and the status of the outbreak.”

Until it can identify which specific batches of lettuce are contaminated, the CDC has asked that consumers avoid “all types or uses of romaine lettuce.” This includes “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.”

The FDA clarified that this strain of E. coli is unrelated to the strain from the outbreak earlier this year. The agency said that it is currently “conducting a traceback investigation to determine the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by people who became sick.”

So far, there have been 32 reported cases in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. California and Michigan have the most reported cases (10 and 7, respectively). The CDC noted that although the official number of cases was 32, “[i]llnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks.”

In all reported cases so far, people were infected with E. coli in the month of October. 13 of these people were hospitalized, but no one has died from this outbreak so far.

Remind me again, what is E. coli?

E. coli, short for the much harder to pronounce “Escherichia coli,” is a strain of bacteria. Most E. coli strains are harmless, and some are naturally occurring inside the human digestive system. However,  some strains can cause a range of symptoms including diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia.

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