An outbreak of E. coli infections may be tied to a bad batch of romaine lettuce, according to Consumer Reports.
Approximately 58 people in 13 states have become ill with E. coli, including Illinois. Five people have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Another person has died in Canada.
Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of their outbreak, but the U.S. officials are still investigating and have not said whether any specific food should be avoided.
However, Consumer Reports advised that just to be safe, consumers should avoid romaine lettuce until the cause is identified.
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Anyone can get sick if infected with E. coli, but young children, the elderly and the immune-compromised are at greater risk. E. coli is often spread by animal of human feces in the field, irrigation or washing water, or when food handlers do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Washing greens is a good idea, Consumer Reports says, but won’t necessarily eliminate E. coli from the nooks and crannies in the leaves.
Symptoms of E. coli include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a slight fever 1-3 days after exposure, sometimes as late as 10 days later. See a doctor if you have a high fever, bloody diarrhea, diarrhea that lasts more than three days or severe vomiting.