Three new states are now reporting illnesses—here's what you can do to avoid getting sick.
Credit: Getty: Justin Sullivan / Staff

  • The national E. coli outbreak that has been linked to contaminated romaine lettuce has worsened, as more than 30 new cases have been reported. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control released a new update on the scale of E. coli infections spreading across the country, with nearly 20 states now reporting illnesses.
  • Multiple national agencies instituted a blanket ban on romaine lettuce nearly a week ago.
  • The CDC says even more cases may be reported still as more E. coli victims come forward to seek treatment, at which point hospitals notify the national agency.

Health professionals are reeling after a national E. coli outbreak has caused more than 80 people to fall ill after eating tainted romaine lettuce. While headlines have forced national grocery stores and restaurants to ditch salad for the foreseeable future, a new update from the Centers for Disease Control is a reminder that home cooks still need to be wary. 

Initially, the CDC only reported 35 cases in 11 different states. But that number has soared to 84 as now 19 different states have reported illnesses related to E. coli poisoning stemming from romaine lettuce. 

Those victims aren't living in one particular area of the United States: Alaska, California, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut have reported E. coli sicknesses. While no deaths have been reported, the CDC also advised the public that more cases—and increased severity—could be later reported as more and more patients flock to local hospitals. 

The issue began when federal inspectors traced the outbreak back to the Yuma, Arizona, region, a robust area of a state that is responsible for a lot of the produce that we eat across the country. Romaine lettuce isn't packaged or sold with clear identification of where it was produced, so unless you have a bed of romaine heads in your backyard, the CDC has asked you not to eat romaine lettuce whatsoever. Grocery stores have followed suit and most national retail outlets have pulled the product from shelves.

What's truly scary about this bout of E. coli sicknesses is that many people have developed a rare kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome—a phenomena where the kidney fails, and E. coli is the gateway sickness for many of those victims who have since developed what's known as HUS.

We'll update this article with more information as it becomes available, but today's CDC update is a reminder: Stay away from romaine lettuce. This outbreak, which is on its way to becoming one of the worst in American history, is no joke.