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What Parents Need To Know About E. coli

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the first death connected to the recent E. coli outbreak that has expanded to half of the United States. 

The CDC says 121 cases of E. coli have been reported in 25 states, related to the outbreak tied to romaine lettuce. At the time of this writing, none of them were from Texas. The death occurred in California. No other details were released because of patient privacy laws. There have been 52 hospitalizations and 63 percent of ill people are female, with a median age of 29.

No recalls have taken place.

E. coli (Escherichia coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals, according to the CDC.

E. coli symptoms include stomach pain/cramps, vomiting and diarrhea (often bloody).

“Most people get better within a week, usually five to seven days,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s. “Some infections are very mild, but E. coli can become severe or even life-threatening. The most serious cases can lead to secondary complications with the kidneys that can result in kidney failure, called hemolytic uremic syndrome.”

For now, the CDC advices people to avoid romaine lettuce, unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Ariz. growing region. “Product labels often do not identify growing regions, so, do not eat or buy romaine lettuce if you do not know where it was grown,” the CDC writes.

The warning for eating romaine lettuce includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce in the salad mix is romaine, do not eat it.

Other preventive tips include wash your hands, wash fruits and vegetables, cook meat thoroughly and don’t cook for others if you are feeling ill.

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