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CDC: Indiana added to list in E. coli outbreak possibly connected to Wendy's sandwiches

The CDC reports 37 people infected in the outbreak in four states including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
Credit: AP
FILE - A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign stands at the entrance of their offices in Atlanta on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)

INDIANA, USA — Indiana is now part of an E. coli outbreak spiking in surrounding states, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports 37 people infected in the outbreak in four states including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Ten people have been hospitalized, including three in Michigan with a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported.

A specific food has not been identified, but the CDC reports most of the sickened people reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants before getting sick. Of the 26 people interviewed so far, 22 had eaten at Wendy's in the week prior to getting sick.

The CDC said Wendy’s is taking the precautionary measure of removing the romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in the region. Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads.

Investigators are working to confirm whether romaine lettuce is the source of this outbreak, and whether romaine lettuce served at Wendy’s restaurants was served or sold at other businesses.

To prevent getting sick, the CDC recommends people follow four steps when handling and preparing food: clean, separate, cook and chill. Infections are commonly spread through contaminated food or water.

The CDC is asking those with symptoms of E. coli to write down the food they ate during the week of their sickness, report the illness to a local and state health department and answer questions from public health officials.

If you are experiencing any of these severe E. coli symptoms, please call a healthcare provider:  

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days and is not improving
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down 
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:    
    • Not peeing much  
    • Dry mouth and throat     
    • Feeling dizzy when standing up

The CDC has provided the following information on E. coli:

  • Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C).
  • Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
  • Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have severe symptoms of E. coli, such as diarrhea that lasts for more than three days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102˚F, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and are not peeing much.

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