Lettuce warning: 9 E. coli cases reported in LA County

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid a national warning about contaminated romaine lettuce, local officials say nine people in Los Angeles County have been infected with E. coli - out of 32 cases nationally.

The warning from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health notes that no deaths have been reported from the contaminated lettuce.

Still, the Centers for Disease Control says the 32 people in 11 states were infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli between Oct. 8 and Oct. 31. Also, 18 people in Canada have become ill from the same strain.

Thirteen people were hospitalized, including one person who developed a type of kidney failure.

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E. coli is a large group of bacteria found in the intestine of many living organisms, but some strains can lead to illness.

The federal agency is advising U.S. consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce in response to the new multi-state outbreak of illnesses.

Despite the warning, Eyewitness News found that romaine lettuce was still being sold at a Vons supermarket in Burbank. A supervisor at the store said he was not aware of the warning but said he would check the store's emails.

Karla Cortes, a local senior center sous chef, said she was personally told by her bosses to get rid of any romaine lettuce -- and that means no salad for Thanksgiving this year.

"To have my supervisors call me -- I mean these are higher supervisors -- and personally say, 'Get the romaine lettuce off the shelves,' I said, 'yeah,'" Cortes shared.

The CDC advises anyone who has any type of romaine lettuce in his or her home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.

This includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

The CDC recommends that if you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.

The CDC also advises consumers to wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored.

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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the agency doesn't yet have enough information to request suppliers issue a recall. But he says suppliers can help by withdrawing romaine products until the contamination can be identified.

According to the CDC, people usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli two to eight days after swallowing the germ. Some patients may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.

If you have symptoms of an E. coli infection, talk to your healthcare provider.

Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick, and report your illness to the health department.

CLICK HERE for more on the outbreak from the CDC.
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