E. coli linked to lettuce


A Bowling Green woman is suing Wendy’s after she reportedly became seriously ill after eating tainted lettuce at the restaurant.

Sara Boron filed a complaint late Friday in Wood County Common Pleas Court as the E. coli outbreak appears to be connected to romaine that was served on sandwiches at the fast food restaurant.

There have been 22 reported cases in Wood County, with seven hospitalizations. The age range is 13-68.

In her complaint, Boron said she ate a Dave’s single hamburger with a side of cheese fries and junior chocolate Frosty on Aug. 1, from the Wendy’s at 1094 S. Main St. in Bowling Green.

On Aug. 4, she started experiencing nausea, stomach cramps and fatigue.

She sought medical attention at Wood County Hospital on Aug. 5. Boron was treated with IV fluids and Zofran, which is used to treat nausea and vomiting.

She returned to the hospital on Aug. 6 at 3 a.m. with increasing abdominal pain and persistent diarrhea, and was treated with more fluids and Zofran.

Boron was back at the hospital that evening when her diarrhea became bloody.

She was admitted to the hospital from Aug. 6-13. Her recovery is ongoing, the lawsuit said.

Boron is asking for damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and medical expenses.

In a statement to the Sentinel-Tribune, Boron’s lawyer William Marler, who is based in Seattle, said that the Food and Drug Administration needs to have better oversight over the industry.

“The leafy green industry has been the source of the vast majority of E. coli outbreaks over the last decade. The FDA needs to do a far better job regulating an industry that does not seem to have the capability to solve this problem,” Marler said.

The Centers for Disease Control website said that the investigation is continuing.

A specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before getting sick, the CDC said.

Based on this information, Wendy’s is taking the precautionary measure of removing the romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in that 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 used in Wendy’s sandwiches was served or sold at other businesses. Wendy’s is fully cooperating with the investigation, the CDC said.

The lawsuit says that 37 people from Ohio (19), Michigan (15), Pennsylvania (two) and Indiana (one) have been infected with a strain of E. coli; nine have been hospitalized.

Among the 26 interviewed, 22 (86%) reported having eaten at a Wendy’s restaurant in the week before their illness started, specifically the sandwiches with romaine.

The CDC is not advising that people avoid eating at Wendy’s restaurants or that people stop eating romaine lettuce.

At this time, there is no evidence to indicate that romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores, served in other restaurants, or in people’s homes is linked to this outbreak, the CDC said.

The CDC is not advising businesses to stop selling or serving any foods.

Locally, the Wood County Health Department worked with Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Agriculture to have food samples from a local Wendy’s tested. All food samples tested were negative for E. coli.

“This really represents the result of good coordination of local, state and federal levels,” Ben Robison, health commissioner, said on Friday.

He said people should continue to fill out the survey on the health department website if they think they were infected.

“We very much appreciate the folks who have reported their stats so can we follow up with food history,” Robison said. “If you experience those symptoms, seek care and test and follow up with us.”

Severe E. coli symptoms:

Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F

Diarrhea for more than 3 days that 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

Most people with an 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. Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

If you believe you are or have experienced the severe E. coli symptoms listed above from July 20 to the present, think about where you may have traveled, what you may have eaten and where in the 10 days prior to the start of your symptoms.

Then go to: https://woodcountyhealth.org/health-promotion-and-preparedness/infectious-disease/ and click on the “take this survey” link in blue.

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains of these bacteria are harmless, some produce toxins that can make you sick and cause diarrhea. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is one of the strains that can make people sick.

Preventing the spread of E. coli

Hand washing with soap and water is the best prevention.

Anyone with active diarrhea should not prepare food until the diarrhea has ceased for at least 24 hours.

If you have small children, avoid touching items that children are likely to put into their mouths, like pacifiers or teethers.

If you have STEC infection and work in food, healthcare or child care:

You should remain off work until 48 hours after the diarrhea has ceased and 2 consecutive stool samples have been collected.

Additionally, anyone with diarrhea should avoid swimming, water-related activities and sexual contact with other people while experiencing symptoms.

Food safety: Follow these four steps to prevent E. coli.

Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting, or peeling.

Separate: Keep food that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure you have cooked your food to a temperature high enough to kill germs.

Chill: Refrigerate perishable food (food that goes bad) within 2 hours. If the outside temperature is hotter than 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour. Thaw food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/.

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