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CDC alert: Avoid all romaine lettuce due to E. coli outbreak

Just days before Thanksgiving, the CDC says consumers should avoid all romaine lettuce due to an E. coli outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control issued a food safety alert on Tuesday warning consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce due to another multi-state E. coli outbreak in the U.S. and Canada.

According to the CDC alert, there have already been 32 reported cases of E. coli linked to this outbreak across 11 states. While the department has yet to pinpoint an exact cause, epidemiologic evidence indicated that romaine lettuce is likely the source of this outbreak.

Thirteen people so far have been hospitalized in the U.S., including one person who developed a type of kidney failure, the alert said. Those infected so far range in age from 7 to 84 years. No deaths have been reported.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has also reported 18 people infected with the same E. coli strain.

The CDC alert, issued just two days before Thanksgiving, said that because no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified, consumers should avoid any and all romaine lettuce.

"CDC is advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and restaurants and retailers not sell any, until we learn more about this outbreak and the source of the contaminated lettuce," the alert noted.

The CDC advised consumers to throw out any romaine lettuce they have and to wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where it was stored.

These latest illnesses are not related to a previous E. Coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce in the spring. The CDC said the bacteria in the spring outbreak had a different DNA fingerprint.

The CDC warned illnesses that occurred after Oct. 30 may not have been reported yet because it takes an average of two to three weeks between an E. Coli infection and when the illness is reported.