Three cases of E. coli infection have recently been reported in south-central and southwestern Idaho, according to Central District Health Department spokeswoman Christine Myron.

“Because the count is so small, and hopefully it will stay that way, we are not in a position to release any specific demographic information,” Myron said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are jointly investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 40 people in 16 states.

Right now, Wisconsin is leading the pack of affected states with 10 reported E. coli infections.

The outbreak—which began Sept. 28—has spurred federal health agencies to warn consumers, restaurants and retailers not to eat, serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Salinas, Calif., region, 10 miles east of Monterey Bay.

“This includes all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, Calif., such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine,” the CDC advised in a Nov. 22 media release.

The strain of E. coli in question—O157—is associated with irrigation systems that have been contaminated with cattle feces. From Sept. 28 until Nov. 10, the bacterium resulted in at least 28 hospitalizations, according to the CDC. Five hospitalizations were due to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure closely linked with the strain.

 On Nov. 21, food processor Missa Bay recalled almost 75,000 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products manufactured between Oct. 14 and Oct. 16. Many now-recalled bags of salad had hit the shelves at grocers that include Walmart, Target, Aldi, Sam’s Club, Albertsons and Giant Eagle.

Though the potentially contaminated salads are now past their use-by dates, health officials are concerned that some products may still be in customers’ freezers or refrigerators.

Symptoms of E. coli exposure include bloody diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, and typically arise within three to four days of ingesting the bacteria.

To find out how to identify contaminated lettuce, see  cdc.gov/ecoli/2019/o157h7-11-19/index.html. A complete list of recalled products can be found at fsis.usda.gov.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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