Romaine lettuce source, number of illnesses may remain uncertain

Illnesses related to romaine lettuce e. coli contamination continue to climb, with North Dakota recently being added to the list of states affected. However, the true number of illnesses, as well as the true source of the contamination, may never be known for certain.

Typically, illnesses are reported only when people feel sick enough to seek medical assistance. E. coli can produce severe symptoms in those impacted, but those who experience milder cases of diarrhea or nausea may not be included in the overall count of illnesses. More complicated symptoms can lead to hospitalization, serious conditions such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and even death. The current outbreak has resulted in 121 reported illnesses in 26 states, 52 hospitalizations, 14 cases of HUS, and 1 death.

While authorities have identified the area where the romaine lettuce was grown, they have not been able to identify the specific source of the e. coli contamination. The Yuma, Arizona, growing area has produced all of the romaine lettuce in question. One farm, Harrison Farm, has been found to be responsible for the romaine lettuce that sickened people in a correction facility in Alaska, but not for other illnesses reported across the country.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to investigate but pinpointing the source of the contamination is challenging. Investigators believe that the contamination may have originated in the fecal matter of an animal; however, the romaine lettuce eaten by consumers went through a number of different types of processing and distribution channels and could have been contaminated at any point during these processes. Food safety issues and human hygiene practices may also have been a factor in the contamination.

Counts will continue to rise as symptoms manifest and consumers seek medical attention. E. coli symptoms may not appear for a week after consuming a contaminated food product and reporting to the CDC may take several more weeks.

If you are a victim of the ongoing e. coli outbreak related to romaine lettuce, please contact the food poisoning lawyers at 1-888-335-4901 to discuss your legal options or to file a Romaine lettuce e. coli lawsuit or claim.