Physicians warn of E. Coli outbreak, staying healthy during the holidays

CDC: Romaine lettuce unsafe to eat

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is urging you to not eat any type of romaine lettuce.

At least 32 people have gotten sick from a potentially lethal strain of E. Coli bacteria, including 18 people. Experts believe it’s from romaine lettuce.

Novant Health Family Physician Dr. Gen Brauning says this strain of E. Coli can lead to more serious complications like kidney failure.

“There isn’t a great treatment for it, we will mostly be trying to keep you hydrated,” Dr. Brauning said. “This strain in particular does not respond to antibiotics and it can actually make it worse.”

If exposed to the bacteria, you may experience mild symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. If the symptoms last for more than three days or are more severe, Brauning urges you to see a doctor.

“We get more concerned when people have significant amounts of vomiting, bloody diarrhea and high fevers because those are the more moderate and severe cases that could be at increased risk that causes complications,” Brauning said.

Health officials say you may experience the symptoms shortly after eating a contaminated food, but it can also take as long as a week before you notice something is wrong.

Thanksgiving day health concerns

“I think that’s important to point out because most of us aren’t thinking about what we had last week and you may think okay I made it through the weekend and the beginning of the week so you may have forgotten what you were exposed to,” Brauning said.

She also urges you to be extra cautious when celebrating the holidays with friends and family. Novant Health typically sees a spike in visits to the doctor after holidays because people are in such close contact with each other.

“Handwashing, handwashing, handwashing," Brauning said. "It’s always going to be the number one thing.”

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