If you’re a reluctant dieter or New-Year’s-resolution-maker looking for a reason to jump ship for a stretch, this is it. You can officially suspend your extreme health-consciousness for a bit, as Consumer Reports warns people to stay away from romaine lettuce for the time being after 58 people in the US and Canada have fallen ill in the past 7 weeks, likely as a result of E. coli-contaminated romaine.
As wonderful as this excuse to put the diet on hold may seem for those of us who have spent the past several days wishing our leafy greens tasted as good as our sprinkled doughnuts, though, it’s terrible news for those impacted. So far, 5 US residents have been hospitalized as a result of the food poisoning, and tragically, 2 have died — one in the US and one in Canada.
Though the exact culprit of the illnesses has not been confirmed in the US, Canadian health officials have identified the lettuce as the source of their residents’ ailments. The CDC and FDA are actively investigating the source of the problem in the US, and while they are not specifically instructing consumers to avoid the vegetable or issuing any recalls at this time, it’s probably a good idea to nix consumption until they get this whole thing sorted out, particularly as the bacteria found in suspicious lettuce in the US is similar to that of the confirmed bacteria resulting in sickness in Canada.
As with many bacteria, the E. coli in question is likely to affect the young, elderly, and immunocompromised more severely than others, meaning they should be especially cautious about avoiding it, but this doesn’t mean people who do not fall into those categories are exempt from severe illness.
Anyone is susceptible to the negative effects of the contagion, and the most common symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and slight fever.
Having just survived a bout of food poisoning or stomach flu myself that was so violent I was sure I saw Jesus, you can bet I’ll be steering clear of my favorite Caesar salads for a while. Because nothing tastes as good as not losing an intestine through the front or back doors feels.
I’m not a medical professional, but after what I suffered through, I can offer this sage advice: If you have consumed romaine recently and suspect you may be infected, or if you exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above, even without having consumed romaine to your knowledge, monitor your symptoms, consult a physician immediately if they worsen or persist, try to stay hydrated, and wash your hands. Like 8 million times per day, please.
And keep a watchful eye on your littles, your elders, and those who are immunodeficient.
I may use humor to cope with fear and worry, but that doesn’t mean this illness isn’t serious. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to dismiss concerns and wind up hospitalized or worse.