The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of people hospitalized due to multiple E. coli related to romaine lettuce continues to increase.
According to the CDC, since March 13th, about 53 people have reported infection in 16 states. Of these, 31 were hospitalized.
Five of them developed kidney failure associated with an E. coli disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which could be life-threatening.
The CDC said no deaths were reported.
The higher number of E. coli cases have been in Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Jersey and Montana.
The outbreak has also reached consumers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.
The symptoms of E. coli usually begin 2-8 days after the bacteria are eaten, although most patients are sick three or four days after eating.
Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most people recover within five to seven days.
Those most vulnerable to E. coli disease include very young, very old, and compromised immune systems.
Health officials had issued a warning for residents and restaurants about chopped romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, area last week.
“Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten,” the CDC said in a statement.
“These restaurants reported making salads in bags of chopped lettuce. At this time, the patient did not report the growth of the entire head or heart,” the center added.
The agency recommends that people across the United States stay away from chopped lettuce.
“Everywhere in the United States, consumers should not eat chopped lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes, and should throw it away.
Even if some food is eaten, no one is sick. Whether lettuce is lettuce or not, do not eat it and throw it away, “said the CDC.