Life-threatening complications include kidney failure
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its warning about an E. coli outbreak connected to romaine lettuce to cover all forms of romaine, including whole heads and hearts of romaine grown in the Yuma, Arizona, growing area. A previous warning was limited to chopped forms of romaine, including salads and salad mixes.
CDC based the new warning on eight new cases of acute gastroenteritis at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, that appear to be connected to the current outbreak affecting 53 people in 16 states. Thirty-one of those have been hospitalized, the CDC said, and although no one has died, five people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This map details the cases by state.
According to the CDC, “E. coli are a diverse family of bacteria that can be found in the intestines of people and animals.” This information leads us to ask how sanitary are the conditions in the fields where the laborers are picking crops? Do they have bathroom facilities with soap, running water and antiseptic hand spray or wipes? What do you think? Given the likely circumstances it’s surprising there aren’t more serious disease outbreaks.
From the U.S. Food & Drug Administration:
The symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If there is fever, it is usually not very high (less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit /less than 38.5 degrees Celsius). Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
Around 5–10 percent of those who are diagnosed with STEC infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working (acute renal failure), but they may also develop other serious problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and neurologic problems.
Read the complete updated report here.