BILLINGS – An outbreak of E. coli in 11 states including Montana has been linked to chopped romaine lettuce sourced from Arizona, according to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.
Confirmed and suspected cases have been identified in Missoula, Flathead, Lincoln and Ravalli counties, according to the DPHHS press release.
The contaminated lettuce was sourced from the winter growing areas in Yuma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting three hospitalizations in Montana and an additional 35 cases, including 22 hospitalizations, in other states.
Symptoms of E. coli infection are varied, but typically include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Those symptoms are often accompanied by a low fever.
Most people recover within five to seven days, however some infections can be life-threatening.
The DPHHS advised that most people infected will exhibit symptoms three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria.
Here is some advice to consumers:
Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the chopped lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the chopped romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.
Advice to Restaurants and Retailers:
Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.