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An E coli The outbreak, which was first detected mainly in the Midwest, is growing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Illnesses have now been reported in New York and Kentucky in addition to those previously recorded in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Although the CDC said the specific source of the outbreak has not been confirmed, many of the people who became ill reported eating romaine lettuce sandwiches at fast-food chain Wendy’s.
There have now been at least 97 illnesses linked to the outbreak, with 43 hospitalizations and no deaths.
In a statement, Wendy’s said it is cooperating fully with public health authorities and is committed to maintaining food safety and quality standards.
“Although the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food item as the source of that outbreak, we have taken precautions to remove the sandwich salad at some restaurants,” the company said. “The lettuce we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action.”
The CDC said investigators were working to determine whether romaine lettuce was the cause of the outbreak and, if so, whether it had been served or sold elsewhere.
The agency said so far there was no evidence that romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores or other restaurants was linked to the outbreak. Officials also did not advise people to stop eating romaine lettuce or stop eating at Wendy’s.
The first illness linked to the outbreak was reported in late July, and those who fell ill ranged in age from three to 94.
Michigan saw a majority of the illnesses, with 58 sick people reported to the agency.
The CDC said so, because many people recover from one E coli infection without medical treatment and has not been tested, the true number of people sickened by the outbreak is “likely higher” than the official number, and the outbreak may be present in several states.