NEWSBRIEF: Ten Minnesota illnesses linked to national E. coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce

Minnesota Municipal Power Agency recently installed a solar array at North High School as part of the Hometown Solar Grant program. submitted photo

The Minnesota Department of Health is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and public health agencies in other states to investigate an outbreak of E. coli infections associated with eating romaine lettuce.

Ten cases of E. coli infection in Minnesota residents have recently been identified and linked to the multi-state outbreak. Illness onset dates range from April 20 through May 2. The cases are from both metro and greater Minnesota counties; 90 percent are female. Three cases were hospitalized and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal complication that can include kidney failure and other severe problems.

All of the Minnesota cases interviewed by public health investigators reported exposure to romaine lettuce. Reported exposure locations include restaurants, grocery stores and residential facilities. MDH is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to further investigate these exposures.

“Do not eat, buy or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region,” said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne and Zoonotic Diseases section. “The Yuma growing region includes part of western Arizona and extends into the Imperial Valley of southeastern California, but does not include Salinas Valley or other growing regions in California.” 

Product from the Yuma growing region should no longer be on sale; however, individuals should check their refrigerators for romaine lettuce that may have been grown in the Yuma region.

Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this period can range from one to eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coli infections sometimes lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome. 

Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli include children younger than 10, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Diarrhea associated with E. coli infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli infection should contact their health care provider.

Approximately 135 cases of E. coli are reported each year in Minnesota. More information on E. coli and how to prevent it can be found at

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