A head of Romaine lettuce
A head of romaine lettuce. Image via Pixabay

Nine of the 32 people across the country who were sickened by an E. coli infection linked to romaine lettuce are Los Angeles County residents, public health officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food safety alert Tuesday warning people not to eat any romaine lettuce due to an E. coli outbreak. According to the CDC, 32 cases have been reported in 11 states, with 10 of the cases being in California.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Tuesday afternoon that of the 32 outbreak cases, nine are county residents. No details of the cases were released.

The department “is working closely with CDC to investigate any possible connection between cases,” according to the agency.

No deaths have been reported. According to the CDC, U.S. illnesses were reported on dates ranging from Oct. 8 to Oct. 31, and 13 people had to be hospitalized. There have also been 18 cases of the same type of E. coli bacteria reported in Canada.

Health officials said evidence from cases in both nations point to romaine lettuce as the likely source of the outbreak.

Echoing recommendations of the CDC, Los Angeles County health officials advised residents to throw away any romaine lettuce in their homes.

“This includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salad,” according to county health officials. “If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.”

Restaurants and stores were also advised to stop serving and selling romaine lettuce.

According to public health officials, people infected with E. coli usually suffer from bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps about three to four days after consumption of tainted food. Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and potentially result in kidney failure, health officials said.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.