The epidemic of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce from Wendy’s fast food restaurants has spread to New York and Kentucky, which are among the six states where the disease has been discovered.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are at least 97 reported cases in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky and New York. More than half of the infections are in Michigan.
“The actual number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to states with known illnesses,” the CDC warned in its statement.
Some cases had more serious outcomes, including 43 people hospitalized. Most illnesses occurred in Michigan, with only one in New York and Kentucky.
Of the 97 reported cases, 43 people were hospitalized and 10 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can lead to kidney failure. According to the CDC, no deaths have been reported.
E. Coli is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tracts of animals and humans while most varieties are harmless, some can cause serious illness. Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some people suffer from high fevers and many develop life-threatening conditions.
On August 21, Wendy’s removed lettuce from its restaurants in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The CDC noted that Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads than in its sandwiches.