The CDC expanded its warning to consumers to include all types of romaine from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, not just the chopped variety originally included.
The update is in response to new information about the outbreak coming from people at a correctional facility in Alaska who became sick. Their illnesses were traced back to romaine grown in the Yuma area.
Most types of E. coli are actually harmless. But the type involved with this outbreak is known to cause particularly severe infections.
According to the CDC, this outbreak is associated with Shiga toxin–producing E. coli O157:H7, which causes infections that may bring on the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea (often bloody)
- Severe stomach cramps
Symptoms usually start between two and eight days after eating the contaminated food and, among healthy adults, usually last for about a week.
However, in some cases, the infection can go on to cause a serious complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a form of kidney failure. Young kids, elderly adults, and people with compromised immune systems are most likely to develop HUS. According to the CDC, symptoms of HUS include:
- Abdominal pain
- Pale skin tone
- Fatigue and irritability
- Small, unexplained bruises
- Decreased urination
- Bleeding from the nose and mouth
Most people with E. coli infections get better with minimal treatment (including rest and staying hydrated), although the FDA does recommend getting in touch with your doctor to be sure you know what you’re dealing with (and it’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you are experiencing bloody diarrhea).
If you suspect you may have developed HUS, it’s important to get medical care ASAP.
For now, the CDC recommends avoiding store-bought chopped romaine lettuce and throwing away any that you already bought.