While they have traced the toxic E. coli strain to the Yuma growing region, they are still looking for the precise source - whether it originated in the water supply, harvesting equipment, a processing plant in the area or somewhere else. "So any immediate risk is gone", FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said in a joint blog post. "Most people get diarrhea [often bloody], severe stomach cramps and vomiting", according to the CDC.
When a person becomes infected with the bacteria, it can take two to three weeks before a report to the CDC. Twenty-six of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. And there has been person-to-person transmission in this outbreak; some people who got sick didn't eat romaine, but had close contact with someone who did get sick from romaine lettuce.
The sweeping advisory came after information tied to some new illnesses prompted health officials to caution against eating all kinds of romaine lettuce that came from Yuma. "However, the FDA is committed to investigating the source of the outbreak and working with industry to help prevent similar events in the future". "If the explanation was as simple as a single farm, or a single processor or distributor, we would have already figured that out".
"During the week of April 14 (the week the news broke), romaine dollar sales fell 20%, which pushed total lettuce performance down by double digits: iceberg lettuce dollar sales were down 19%; red leaf lettuce dollar sales fell 16%; and endive dollar sales dipped 17%", according to a Nielsen report on National Salad Month. Most people recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.