Don't eat romaine lettuce in any form — CDC

FILE- A romaine lettuce field near San Luis Ariz

FILE- A romaine lettuce field near San Luis Ariz

Previous warnings only applied to chopped romaine by itself or as part of salads and salad mixes.

The Centers for Disease Control is expanding a warning about contaminated lettuce from Arizona that has now sickened dozens of people in several states.

That brings the tally of those sickened to 61 people in 16 states around the country, with 31 people hospitalized. Five have been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a variety of kidney failure that can be caused by certain strains of E. coli.

The CDC said it did not have the number of sick people in Alaska yet, and it can not say for sure where the contaminated lettuce came from precisely. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away", the CDC advised.

"Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce", the CDC said.

Yuma-grown romaine is typically available from November through late March or mid-April. He says romaine production out of California is not associated with the outbreak.

It can take weeks to track down the source of a food poisoning outbreak.

So people had better be safe than sorry.

The CDC and state health officials have spoken to the people who got infected.

You should also wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine lettuce was stored.

The far-flung outbreak has reached as far away as a remote state prison outside Nome, AK.

Officials are advising consumers to avoid any romaine lettuce products, including salad mixes, that contain chopped romaine lettuce. Pennsylvania has the most reported infections, with 12. It is important to toss or refrain from eating the lettuce because lettuce labels do not often identify the source of origin.

Now the warning from the CDC covers all types of romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts. If you find yourself sick, write down what you've eaten, contact your doctor and report your illness to your local health department.

The Yuma area is under investigation because romaine lettuce is harvested there this time of the year.

On Friday afternoon the CDC reissued another warning after an outbreak in Alaska, and cases reported in CT and NY.

CBS News' Don Dahler reports that 90 percent of the romaine grown in the USA between November and March comes from the Yuma region, and while the exact source of the outbreak hasn't been identified, the CDC strongly suspects that region is the culprit.

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