PHOENIX — Chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is suspected in an E. coli outbreak that has hospitalized 22 people, according to a report Friday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To date, 35 cases have been reported in 11 states, the CDC said. No one has died. Three people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, the CDC said in a statement.
No grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified as the outbreak's source, the CDC said.
The agency is advising consumers anywhere in the United States to dispose of any store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce.
The first case was reported on March 22, and six people were taken ill on March 26, the peak day of the outbreak so far, the CDC reported.
How produce moves from Yuma, Arizona, to plates around the U.S.
At least eight people were taken ill in Idaho and eight in Pennsylvania, the CDC said.
The people affected range from 12 to 84 years old, and more females than males have been sickened, the CDC said.
The outbreak has reached across the country, sickening people from Washington to Connecticut. Although linked to Yuma, no one from Arizona has reported illness yet.
Of the 28 sickened people who were interviewed, 26 reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started, most in a salad at a restaurant, the CDC said.
It's possible the outbreak has affected more people who have gotten sick in the past few weeks but have not reported it yet.
Wherever you live in North America, if you are eating a salad at home or in a restaurant from January through March, chances are the lettuce came from the Yuma area.
Yuma is the nation's largest supplier of winter greens — lettuce, cabbage, spinach, kale, spring mix and more.
Now that it's April, most romaine lettuce comes from California. That lettuce is not affected by the outbreak, according to a joint statement from industry leaders, including the Produce Marketing Association.
"We are cooperating fully with government and working closely to further identify the specific source of this outbreak," it said, noting that the advisory affects only chopped, bagged lettuce and not whole heads or hearts of romaine.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been impacted by this outbreak."
How to spot the signs of E. coli
According to the CDC, it takes an average of three to four days to get sick after eating food infected with E. coli, but it can take up to eight days.
Most people experience diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting and recover within one week. Anyone taken ill should contact a doctor if diarrhea "lasts more than 3 days or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine," according to the CDC.
Children younger than 5, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.
"Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination," according to the CDC. People experiencing such symptoms should seek emergency medical care.