FRIDAY, Sept. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A total of 97 people in six states have now contracted E. coli in an outbreak that may be linked to contaminated lettuce used in sandwiches sold at Wendy’s restaurants.
“Since the last update on August 25, 2022, 13 additional diseases have been reported to the CDC,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an updated statement released Thursday. Two states — Kentucky and New York (each with one case) — have now been added to the list of states reporting cases, which also includes Michigan (58 cases), Ohio (24), Indiana (11), and Pennsylvania (2).
Diseases caused by infections with the gastrointestinal bacterium are often severe.
“Of 81 people with available information, 43 were hospitalized and 10 developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure,” the CDC said, although “no deaths were reported.”
The exact source of the outbreak has still not been officially confirmed, but the CDC said that in 67 cases where investigators asked what people ate in the week before they became ill, 81% said they ate at Wendy’s.
“Of 54 people with detailed information about what they ate at Wendy’s, 37 [69%] reported eating romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches,” the agency noted.
On August 19, Wendy’s announced that it had removed romaine lettuce from its sandwiches in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Wendy’s is taking the precautionary measure of removing romaine lettuce, which is used in sandwiches, from restaurants in this region,” the CDC said at the time. “Investigators are working to confirm if romaine lettuce is the source of this outbreak and if the romaine lettuce used in Wendy’s sandwiches was served or sold at other stores.”
Romaine lettuce sold at grocery stores doesn’t appear to be affected, the CDC said, and people can still dine at Wendy’s and eat the romaine lettuce in the salads sold there. Wendy’s said in a statement that the lettuce used in its salads is not the same as that used in its sandwiches.
“We are fully cooperating with health authorities in their ongoing investigation into the regional E. coli outbreak that has been reported in certain Midwestern states,” the company said at the time. “While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of this outbreak, we are taking precautions by discarding and replacing the sandwich salad at some restaurants in this region.”
Most people with an E. coli infection “feel sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria,” the CDC said. “However, illnesses can begin between 1 and 10 days after exposure.” Illnesses typically last 5 to 7 days.
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For more information on the outbreak, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, press release, August 25, 2022; Wendy’s, statement, August 19, 2022