If you love Romaine lettuce, you’re going to have to find something else to eat for the time being.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just issued a warning about an E. coli outbreak in the U.S. and Canada, seemingly originating from the lettuce.
The scare is relevant to the entire country as incidents haven’t been isolated to one specific region.
As of now, a total of 32 cases have been reported in 11 states, including one in Maryland. And 13 of these cases have led to hospitalization.
The U.S. isn’t alone in this. Canada has reported another 18 cases.
The germ hasn’t discriminated in terms of ages: the affected ages span between seven years of age to 84 with the median age being 24.
An interesting note, females make up 66 percent of the total cases.
Symptom Onset and Reporting
After swallowing the germ, sickness typically sets in within two to eight days.
On average, it takes two to three weeks for infected individuals to report. For this reason, there is only data regarding illnesses that have started between October eighth through October 31st this year, although it’s possible that others have been affected but haven’t yet reported.
Kidney Failure Risk
The current E. coli strand – Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 – also increases the risk of a specific form of kidney failure – hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
What to do
The first step is to stop eating any romaine lettuce until the threat passes. This applies to romaine lettuce that you already have in your fridge too even if it didn’t cause any sicknesses.
Another precaution is to sanitize any areas that have come into contact with romaine such as shelves in your refrigerator, says the CDC.
The center warns not to take antibiotics to treat the E. coli since it hasn’t been proven to be effective in for this infection, and it may even increase the risk of kidney failure.