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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Two Spokane County children sickened in E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Two children in Spokane County have been sickened with E. coli in a nationwide outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, the Washington state Department of Health announced Friday.

The pair are siblings, one of whom contracted the disease in California, Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Kim Papich said. That child spread the disease to their sibling.

They are among five Washingtonians sickened so far in the outbreak. The others live in King County.

Both Spokane children are younger than 10, and neither has been hospitalized, the state health department said.

Two of the King County cases are also children, and one is an adult in their 50s.

The strain of E. coli at the center of the outbreak that has sickened 98 people in 22 states can cause severe illness, including bloody diarrhea and a type of kidney failure. Anyone with symptoms should contact a health care provider.

All types of romaine lettuce, including whole heads, hearts, chopped romaine, salads and salad mixes may be contaminated. People with romaine products at home should throw them away.

Nationwide, 46 people have been hospitalized, including 10 with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations, according to health officials.

The growing season in Yuma, Arizona, is pretty much over, but it’s possible some illnesses will still occur, said Matthew Wise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent illness began on April 20.

The Yuma region provides most of the romaine sold in the U.S. during the winter.

“We haven’t been able to guarantee that there’s no product coming out of Yuma at this point,” said Stic Harris of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during a briefing for reporters.

Reporter Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press contributed to this report.