By Macy Jenkins

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Centers for Disease Control is investigating an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from Southwest Arizona.

The outbreak is now in 16 states, including one case in California. The CDC is advising consumers to throw out any romaine lettuce if you don’t know where it’s from.

“E. Coli infection of this type can be very serious,” said Dr. Jon LaPook, a gastroenterologist. “You can have diarrhea which is often bloody, abdominal pain, nausea.”

At least 53 people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli, 31 have been hospitalized and five are experiencing a type of kidney failure.

The CDC says the outbreak is linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

That’s where 90 percent of nation’s winter romaine lettuce is grown. The warning includes chopped romaine, whole heads, and hearts of romaine, as well as salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.

Consumers and restaurants should find out where the lettuce is from, according to the CDC. And if the answer isn’t clear, the best solution is to throw it away.

“Look at the risk-benefit of throwing away a bag of lettuce that you’ve already paid for and getting sick!” said Dr. LaPook. “Why take a chance?”

Raley’s, Safeway, and Nugget Markets all say their lettuce has not been recalled. Fresh Foods Manufacturing Company has issued a voluntary recall for their ready-to-eat salads.

“We made sure not to eat romaine lettuce and when we went and got lettuce for our burgers there was no romaine in it,” said Katie Scott, a mom of four from Chico.

She told CBS13 she’s steering clear of romaine until further notice.

“Probably not for a little while,” Scott said. “At least a month!”

At this point, the CDC says no grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified as the source.

The incubation period for E. coli is generally about three to four days. It could lead to dehydration, low blood pressure, and kidney problems. If you do get sick, seek medical treatment right away.

April 23 UPDATE: Target issued a statement saying it has removed lettuce that was sourced from Yuma, Arizona, but did not say whether any of that lettuce was at local stores.


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