A nasty strain of bacteria that can cause severe illness is what’s driving a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, health officials said Friday. The government now has reports of 98 people who got sick in 22 states. Forty-six people have been hospitalized, including 10 with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations. The outbreak has been blamed on E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona.
While most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, some produce toxins that can cause severe illness. The growing season in Yuma is pretty much over, but it’s possible some illnesses will still occur, said Matthew Wise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent illness began on April 20. In the meantime, people should not buy or eat romaine unless they know it’s not from Yuma. The Yuma region provides most of the romaine sold in the U.S. during the winter.