A woman who was sickened with E. coli after eating a salad at Panera has filed a lawsuit against Panera and its lettuce supplier, Freshway Foods.
CDC investigators don't believe this outbreak is connected to the one that occurred late previous year in the United States and Canada, although it is the same potentially deadly strain, E.coli O157:H7.
An outbreak of e coli linked to the Yuma, AZ area resulted in most Tri-City grocery stores being bare of a popular lettuce this weekend.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the outbreak spiked last week on April 10 when it added 18 people from nine states to the infected list. The CDC advises anyone with these symptoms to seek medical attention as E. coli infection is typically diagnosed via a stool sample.
The outbreak resulted in almost 36 people becoming ill to varying degrees, including 11 in Washington state.
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Laura Gieraltowski, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Foodborne Outbreak Response Team at the CDC, predicts there will be more reports of illness in the days and weeks ahead.
"Individuals with this infection usually get better within about 5 to 7 days, however some illnesses can be serious or even life-threatening", Dr. Shereef Elnahal, commissioner of the state Department of Health, said in a statement. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away", the CDC said.
The advice is based on interviews with 28 of the ill individuals in which 93% of them reported consuming romaine lettuce within the week they began feeling sick.
"It is unrealistic to expect consumers to figure out whether their romaine was produced in Arizona or somewhere else, especially when eating in a restaurant", she says.
Lettuce from restaurants is suspected to be affected, as well as bagged and pre-chopped lettuce from stores.
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"At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified", the CDC said.
Illnesses that occurred after March 27, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported.
The CDC reports that this investigation remains active, and that it will provide an update when it can.
The FDA recommends that consumers ask restaurants and other food service establishments where their romaine lettuce originated, and avoid chopped romaine lettuce that originated from Yuma, Arizona. Three of those patients have a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is often associated with the O157:H7 E.coli strain.
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