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National E.Coli outbreak hits close to home

Views 40 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 12 - 12 - 2018 | By: Macy Cannon

The recent outbreak of E.coli on the Central Coast of California has resulted in romaine lettuce being stripped from shelves all across the country and has also made a direct impact on local Santa Barbara business. The Santa Barbara Public Health Department has released a statement warning the greater community to not consume romaine lettuce that has been harvested around the Central Coast, which includes romaine lettuce from Santa Barbara County. The Health Department said last week, “all consumers, restaurants, and retailers are advised to check bags or boxes of romaine lettuce for a label indicating where the lettuce was harvested. If you do not know where your romaine lettuce was harvested, do not eat it, sell it, or serve it; you are advised to throw it away.”

The outbreak began in early October and has reached the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Although no one in the county of Santa Barbara has gotten the virus, 11 of the 43 cases from the outbreak have been in California. Approximately 16 of those affected have been hospitalized and one of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure, according to the Center for Disease Control website. There have been no deaths as of press time.

The Health Department is advising against all types of romaine lettuce, no matter how they were packaged or whether they are full heads or in a mix of greens, none of it is safe. An employee from the produce section at Vons Montecito told The Horizon that employees found out about E.coli when “we got emailed down from corporate offices.” The process moved rather rapidly as employees were told to “take any romaine lettuce off the shelves as there was so much possibility for cross contamination.”

The genesis of the outbreak has been narrowed down to the counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura, according to CNN. “Monterey County has more acreage, so the odds are that it’s Monterey County,” said Monterey County’s Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales. “This is very similar to the outbreak that occurred earlier in the year in the Yuma [AZ] region… they’re happening too often… two this year, that’s not good.”
The symptoms of the bacteria start when “people start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria,” shared the Lompoc Record. Health officials have warned, however, that symptoms can appear up to 10 days after ingestion of the bacteria. More severe symptoms include diarrhea, high fever, blood in stool, and regular vomiting. Once officials find out where the outbreak has originated from, we may soon see romaine lettuce back on our shelves.


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