NEW YORK (AP) ̵
The government now has reports from 98 people who got sick in 22 states. Forty-six people were hospitalized, including ten with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations.
The outbreak was attributed to E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce in Yuma, Arizona. While most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, some produce toxins that can cause serious illnesses.
The growth period in Yuma is quite over, but it is possible that some diseases are still occurring, said Matthew Wise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The last illness started on the 20th of April.
In the meantime, people should not buy Romaine or eat if they do not know it's not from Yuma. The Yuma region represents most of the Romain sold in the US during the winter.
"We could not guarantee that there would be no Yuma product at this time," added Stic Harris of the US Food and Drug Administration During a Briefing for Reporters
While officials have tracked the outbreak to Hunted and Whole Head Fragrance from Yuma, they do not know whether it was tainted on the fields or other spot, such as during boxing or distribution. The types of E. coli that cause disease can be spread by contaminated water or food or by contact with infected animals or individuals, says the CDC.
The last major E. coli outbreak like this covered spinach grown in California in 2016. Officials suspect that cattle contaminated a nearby brook, and wild boars that roamed the area spread it to fields.
So far, Arizona officials have tied eight of the 98 cases to Whole Head Romaine at Harrison Farms in Yuma. These eight cases were in a prison in Alaska. "The harvest of the farm is finished," said Harris.
The FDA sees as many as a dozen farms as a source of shredded disease-related Romainia.
Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin were taken to the States on Friday with food poisoning cases.