First case of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce recall reported in Oregon

FILE - This undated photo shows romaine lettuce in Houston. On Friday, April 27, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control said they now have reports of 98 food poisoning cases in 22 states. The outbreak is blamed on E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz. (Steve Campbell/Houston Chronicle via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon is among three new state that have reported E. coli illnesses linked to romaine lettuce, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC reported Wednesday that 23 more illnesses related to the outbreak have been reported since their last update on May 9. Only one case has been reported in Oregon.

Along with Oregon, Iowa and Nebraska are two other states that recently reported their first cases.

"They do a DNA fingerprint and match that against what's going on in the United States," said Emilio DeBess, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority.

OHA cannot say who became ill thanks to the lettuce, or where in Oregon that person lived.

The illnesses are linked to romaine lettuce grown from the Yuma growing region in Arizona. The last shipments of romaine lettuce from this region were harvested on April 16, 2018. The harvest season is now over.

The CDC says it’s unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in stores or restaurants. The lettuce only has a 21-day shelf life.

"The lettuce has been removed from the stores. If you go and buy romaine lettuce at the stores, you'll find it's from California, not from Yuma, Arizona which is where the contaminated product came from," said DeBess.

On average, it takes about two to three weeks from the time someone falls ill with E. coli and when the person reports it to the CDC.

Therefore, the CDC says the most recent illnesses reported to them likely started when romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was still available in restaurants, stores, and consumers’ homes. More cases may also be added to the list because of the time delay.

As of May 16, 172 cases had been reported.

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Researchers say romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region could have been contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7.

The CDC says anyone who shows symptoms of an E. coli infection should contact his or her doctor immediately.

After looking through other outbreak data on the CDC website, this E. coli outbreak appears to be the worst in more than a decade. In 2006, 199 people became ill thanks to spinach that was tainted with E. coli.

For more information on the symptoms of E. coli and how to avoid it, visit the CDC website.

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