MISSOULA – Health officials are offering up some safety advice after several Montana confirmed cases of E. coli linked to the multi-state outbreak associated with cut romaine lettuce.
There have been a total of seven cases reported across Montana as of Friday morning, with health officials saying that three of the confirmed cases have required hospitalization.
All of the confirmed cases have been reported in western or northwest Montana. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reports three cases from Flathead County, two from Missoula County and one case in both Lincoln and Ravalli counties.
The seven Montana cases have an age distribution between 31 and 85, with illness onset dates between March 28 and April 7.
The Missoula City-County Health Department — as well as DPHHS recommend that people follow the US Centers for Disease Control’s advice to not eat pre-cut romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona area.
Local health officials are offering up the following safety advice:
- While many retailers and restaurants have pulled product or discontinued using romaine, there may be products with cut romaine in them that have not been pulled from sale or service. Check ingredient labels to see if products contain cut romaine and ask food service establishments if the romaine used in their facility is pre-cut and from the Yuma area. Note that no official recall has been issued as the source is unclear.
- • If you have pre-cut romaine in your refrigerator at home, even if you have consumed some of it and do not have symptoms like diarrhea, discard it and do not continue to consume it.
- • Note that products may not disclose the growing region on the package and may instead list a distributor or home office location. Even if the package provides another state or location, it may still come from the Yuma area and we encourage consumers to avoid cut romaine unless the growing area can be confirmed as outside of the Yuma area, or more information becomes available.
The Missoula City-County Health Department notes that E. coli is a dangerous foodborne pathogen that causes severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, and sometimes fever one-to-10 days after exposure. Children and those with compromised immune systems can experience severe illness, complications, and kidney failure, which can lead to death.
Click here for more information on the multi-state outbreak from the CDC.
More information on the bacteria and how to prevent disease can be found here.