A Rutgers University expert in infectious diseases is available to comment on the recent E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce, which has currently affected seven people in New Jersey and more than 100 nationwide.

"The E. coli bacteria is commonly found in the human intestinal tract, but the O157: H7 strain can cause severe illness because it produces a toxin. The common symptoms people may experience are diarrhea, which can be bloody, and abdominal cramps," said Tanaya Bhowmick, an assistant professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

"People should avoid eating romaine lettuce per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) warning. If you've consumed lettuce recently, wait to see if you develop any symptoms, which usually takes three to four days to develop. Contact your health care provider immediately and write down the foods you ate per the CDC's recommendation. About 5 percent of affected people with E. coli may develop severe infection with effects on their kidneys."

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