ATLANTA, Ga. (WTVG) – The Centers for Disease Control has identified a possible source of the local E. coli outbreak.
An update from the CDC Friday said that while no specific food has been confirmed as the source of the outbreak, most people who got sick said they ate romaine lettuce sandwiches at Wendy’s restaurants.
86% of people surveyed said they ate at a Wendy’s in the week before they became ill. Wendy’s restaurants where those infected ate are located in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The CDC said Wendy’s is removing romaine lettuce used on sandwiches from restaurants in the area as a precautionary measure and that the chain is using a different type of romaine lettuce in salads.
The agency says it’s not asking people to stop eating at Wendy’s or eating romaine lettuce. There is currently no evidence that romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores or served in other restaurants is linked to the outbreak.
Investigators are working to confirm if romaine lettuce is in fact the source of the outbreak and if it was served or sold at other establishments. For updates on the outbreak, visit the dedicated CDC dashboard here.
The Wood County Health Department said there have been 20 recent E. coli cases in the county and seven people have been hospitalized. The CDC said Friday that 37 people in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157 and that 10 people have been hospitalized. Of those cases, three people in Michigan have a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths were reported, according to the CDC.
The Wood County Health Department said you should contact your doctor if you have symptoms and request a test. The Health Department also asks you to fill out this questionnaire to report your symptoms.
A lawyer representing some people infected in the outbreak told 13abc Friday night he plans to file a lawsuit in the case. One of his clients is a two-year-old from Michigan who has been in the hospital for two weeks.
“These are not people with stomach ache and everyone is fine,” said Bill Marler, a food safety advocate who represents some infected patients. “These are people who are hospitalized and potentially have long-term complications.”
Marler said patients should be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and that they have a long road to recovery. You can read the submission in full below.
13abc has reached out to Wendy’s about the outbreak and the lawsuit. The company released the following statement to 13abc.
We are fully cooperating with the health authorities in their ongoing investigations into the regional E. coli outbreak that has been reported in certain Midwestern states. Although the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of this outbreak, we are taking precautionary measures to remove sandwich salad from restaurants in this region. The lettuce we use in our salads is different and will not be affected by this promotion. As a company, we are committed to maintaining our high standards of food safety and quality.
Here’s what you should do if you notice any symptoms, according to the CDC:
- Call your doctor right away if you have severe E. coli symptoms, such as B. Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days, or diarrhea accompanied by a fever over 102°F, diarrhea with blood, or vomiting so much that you can’t stand your liquids down and aren’t peeing much.
- If you have E. coli symptoms, help us fight this outbreak:
- Write down what you ate in the week before you became ill.
- Report your illness to your local or state health department.
- Answer the health authorities’ questions about your illness.
Facts about E. coli from the CDC:
- Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary from person to person, but commonly include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which is usually not very high (less than 101°F/38.5°C).
- Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, others are serious or even life-threatening.
- Most people with STEC infection feel sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can begin between 1 and 10 days after exposure
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