E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has not hit Nebraska, Iowa

E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has not hit Nebraska, Iowa
A plate of butternut Caesar salad with romaine lettuce and roasted cubes of butternut squash. The Centers for Disease Control said Friday that 98 people in 22 states have fallen ill because of an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. No cases have been reported in Nebraska or Iowa. (The Associated Press)

Nebraska has yet to be affected by the recent E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. But local grocery stores and restaurants have taken precautions to guard consumers against the illness.

Federal health officials said Friday evening that the outbreak has sickened 98 people from 22 states. Affected states do not include Nebraska or Iowa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak is believed to be tied to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona.

Hy-Vee and Baker’s locations pulled all products containing chopped romaine lettuce from store shelves when the outbreak was reported this month. Products started returning to Hy-Vee shelves late last week and are not from Yuma, a written statement said. Hy-Vee distributed signs to all stores so customers know the products are OK to eat.

Romaine lettuce grown outside of the Yuma area returned to Baker’s early this week, a spokeswoman said.

A manager at Papillion’s Chick-fil-A said the restaurant pulled romaine lettuce, too; it used spring mix as a replacement until corporate offices cleared its California distributor.

Other Omaha restaurants, including Stokes, Clever Greens and Greenbelly, said they serve lettuce grown outside of the Yuma area and therefore haven’t been affected by the recall.

The CDC has advised against eating or buying romaine lettuce unless it can be confirmed that it isn’t from the Yuma area. The warning includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine. Restaurants also are advised not to serve or sell romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing area.

Generally, E. coli is spread through human or animal feces, contaminated water or improper handling.

People get sick three to four days after swallowing the germ, the CDC said. Symptoms include diarrhea — often bloody — severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Most recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe. Forty-six people have been hospitalized, including 10 with kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC suggests talking to a doctor if you have symptoms and reporting the illness to the local health department.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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