Romaine E. Coli Outbreak Affects 22 States
A major E. Coli outbreak has rocked a total of twenty two states, sending ninety-eight people to local hospitals. The outbreak has been tied to the Yuma region of Arizona state, where the majority of the nation’s romaine lettuce comes from. So if you’ve bought romaine lettuce in the past few weeks, you should throw it out regardless of whether someone has become sick or not from eating it.
According to Time, 53% of individuals who have contracted this particular strain of E. Coli have been hospitalized, which is a significantly higher percentage than past infection rates. The outbreak is currently being investigated but no distributor, brand, supplier, or particular grower has been identified as the source according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is what you need to know about E. Coli.
What Is It and Where Does It Come From?
E. Coli is a type of bacteria that is found in the digestive tracts of animals, which only becomes a problem if we end up consuming it accidentally. The common strain 0157:H7, is particularly dangerous and is found across many factory farms throughout North America.
Typically though, most E. Coli strains will only cause minor illnesses or no illnesses at all. For the strains that come from agricultural sources, these are considered pathogenic and occur due to contamination.
It can develop from improper hygiene, contaminated washing facilities, inadequately composted animal manure or improper use of agricultural tools and applications.
What Foods Does It Come From?
Generally speaking, it is found on leafy greens like lettuce, sprouts, and spinach but it can also be found in raw milk and undercooked meat. It typically will find its way onto the food due to contaminated soil, fields, or from farm equipment.
What Are The Symptoms of E. Coli?
If you have ingested E. Coli, you will see an intestinal infection within the first ten days after incubation. The symptoms themselves will last around five to ten days depending on the severity of the strain.
Common symptoms include abdominal cramping, severe watery diarrhea that are sudden, loss of appetite, gas, fatigue, and fever. If you experience bloody urine, pale skin, decreased urine output and severe dehydration, these are signs of a severe infection.
You should visit a doctor if you have a fever combined with diarrhea, diarrhea that doesn’t go away within a few days, abdominal pain that does not decrease with bowel movements, blood in the stool, trouble keeping down liquids, vomiting, dehydration, or symptoms of E. Coli in a baby under the age of three months.
How to Prevent It?
Whilst this latest E. Coli outbreak won’t be the last, there are ways to make eating salad safer. The main way of preventing an E. Coli infection is to wash everything before, during, and after handling food. You should be washing your leafy greens with a vinegar, water solution.
Other than this, you want to make sure you are cooking all vegetables as this will reduce the risk of spreading any food-borne illnesses like the ingestion of E. Coli as well as any other foods like supermarket meat.
Finally, make sure you are washing your countertops and cutting boards with either a vinegar and water solution or with a white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide solution. This will kill almost all germs that are lying in wait on your hard top surfaces.
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