Federal health officials have confirmed more than 130 illnesses in 25 states from E. coli connected to romaine lettuce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 138 illnesses have been confirmed. Officials say traceback investigations identified a common grower in Salinas, California, and that consumers should still avoid romaine lettuce from the region.
An update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published on Thursday says investigators are trying to find any factors that could have led to contamination at the farm in common. The FDA says the grower’s ranches will be assessed and that samples will be taken from soil, animal droppings, compost, water and other potential environmental sources.
Wisconsin has the most cases of illnesses by far with 33. Pennsylvania is second with 17, followed by Ohio’s 12.
E. coli are mostly harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of people and animals. But the FDA says eating food contaminated with certain types of E. coli can cause mild to severe illness. Infected people could start feeling symptoms days later including nausea, diarrhea and fever.
Of the nearly 140 illnesses reported, there have been 72 hospitalizations, according to the CDC. The most recent a patient reported getting sick was on December 1.
Officials are warning people not to eat romaine lettuce with labels indicating that it was grown in Salinas. If the lettuce does not have information about where it was harvested, or that it had been grown indoors (hydroponically or in a greenhouse for example), then throw it away or return it where it was purchased.
The FDA also says to ask where romaine is from when ordering at a restaurant.
Lettuce outside the Salinas region has not been connected in the outbreak investigation.