A King County resident has been sickened by E. coli, and health authorities said Friday the bacteria is genetically linked to the strain blamed for a national outbreak of the disease that has made at least 40 people ill.
National health officials warned consumers on Friday not to eat romaine lettuce that was harvested from the Salinas Valley in California, a major growing area for U.S. produce. Cases of E. coli illness in more than 16 states are believed linked to Salinas romaine. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a broad statement urging consumers to avoid any kind of romaine from Salinas — prepackaged chopped lettuce, whole heads, hearts or salad mixes that contain romaine. If the produce or product doesn’t have a label showing where it was harvested, throw it out. If you can’t determine what kind of lettuce is in a mix, don’t eat it, health officials say.
E. coli is a widespread, common bacterium. Most strains are harmless, but some strains can make people very ill. Symptoms include diarrhea that can be bloody, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Five of the ill people developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which affects roughly 5% to 10% of the people who fall sick from E. coli O157:H7, which is the particular strain blamed in the current outbreak.
The King County patient was hospitalized but is now recovering, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County. The health department is investigating other cases of the illness but hasn’t determined which ones could be traced to contaminated lettuce.
A similar outbreak and warning happened close to the Thanksgiving holiday in 2018.