Wisconsin health officials found E. coli in bag of romaine lettuce collected from sick person's home

MADISON -- Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Tuesday, Dec. 10 announced E. coli bacteria was found in an unopened bag of romaine lettuce collected from an ill person's home. DHS officials said the lettuce came from Salinas Valley, California -- where products were recalled in late November.

DHS officials said additional lab testing was underway to determine if the E. coli found in Wisconsin matches the strain causing the multi-state outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.

It was found in a bag of chopped Fresh Express brand Leafy Green Romaine lettuce with a use-by date of Nov. 14, 2019 and lot code of Z301 A05B. The source of the romaine identified on the packaging was Salinas Valley, California.

While the bacteria was found in a bag of Fresh Express brand romaine, DHS officials said not all ill persons in Wisconsin that are included in this outbreak have reported consuming Fresh Express brand salads.

As of Tuesday, no single product, brand, or variety of salad had been reported by all ill individuals.

DHS officials advised people not to consume any products containing romaine lettuce from Salinas Valley, California -- regardless of the brand, noting that while some romaine-containing products were recalled on Nov. 21, romaine from Salinas Valley is still available on many store shelves.

Please check your fridge for any lettuce mixes containing romaine from Salinas Valley and throw them away. Additionally, produce drawers and refrigerator surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly.

DHS officials said as of Dec. 9, there had been 33 cases in Wisconsin included in the multi-state E. coli outbreak, with available evidence indicating romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, growing region is the likely source.

Illnesses in Wisconsin residents started on dates ranging from Nov. 7 to Nov. 19.

Two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, have been reported, and 14 people have been hospitalized.

DHS officials said 97% of ill persons reported eating leafy greens in the week before becoming sick, while 88% of ill persons report consuming or possibly eating romaine lettuce in the week before they became sick.

People with E. coli O157 usually get sick with bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps three to four days after eating food contaminated with the germ. Contact your doctor if you think you ate romaine lettuce from the Salinas region of California and are having any symptoms.