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12:22 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

Farm in Yuma suspected in multi-state lettuce recall following E. coli outbreak

In this file photo from March 8, 2008, laborers in Yuma — America’s winter lettuce capital — are pictured harvesting produce. (Jacob Lopez/AP)

In this file photo from March 8, 2008, laborers in Yuma — America’s winter lettuce capital — are pictured harvesting produce. (Jacob Lopez/AP)

YUMA — The Centers for Disease Control says a multi-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened nearly three dozen people is linked to lettuce grown in Arizona.

The CDC said Friday that 35 people across 11 states have become ill from chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma.

Twenty-two of them have been hospitalized, including three with kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The agency has not identified a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand.

But officials advise that consumers, restaurants and retailers should throw out any chopped romaine lettuce that came from the Yuma area.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

Yuma is about 185 miles (298 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix.

Yuma bills itself as the “winter lettuce capital” and hosts an annual Lettuce Festival.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has confirmed that three Arizona residents are among those infected in this E. coli outbreak.

The department advises residents to not eat any store-bought romaine lettuce and to dispose of store-bought, chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the CDC, has indicated this E. coli outbreak is associated with chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region.

“E. coli can cause serious illness, so it is critical that everyone take precautions by not eating store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, even if you or someone from your family has consumed the product and did not get sick,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the ADHS.

“If you or someone from your family recently ate store-bought chopped romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately,” she said in a statement.

Symptoms of E. coli O157 include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. E. coli O157 infection ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms lasting about five to seven days in most people. Young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at risk of developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening illness that can cause kidney failure, according to the ADHS.

ADHS is working with local health departments, the CDC and the FDA to confirm the source of the E. coli O157 infections, to identify additional cases, and to prevent the spread of the disease.

To prevent foodborne illness, ADHS advises everyone to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water prior to food preparation or consumption, and after using the toilet. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating or handling. Avoid cross-contamination of food during preparation by washing hands, cutting boards, utensils, and any food preparation surfaces.