5 dead, nearly 200 sickened in romaine lettuce outbreak

03 June, 2018, 00:09 | Author: Bruce West
  • Four more people dead from E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Tainted romaine lettuce is being blamed for four more deaths, bringing the total to five deaths related to a strain of E. coli, say federal health officials.

Since mid-May, "four more deaths were reported, bringing the total to five deaths from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and NY (1)", the CDC said in a statement.

In the update Friday on the nation's largest E. coli outbreak in a decade, health officials said 25 new cases have been added, and at least 89 people were hospitalized. Deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY with two of those deaths happening in Minnesota.

The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on May 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Officials also noted that some of the individuals who became ill never actually consumed the contaminated lettuce but were in close contact with someone else who had done so.

The CDC has not pinpointed the exact source of the outbreak, but the lettuce appears to have been contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, a particularly unsafe strain of the bacteria.

Officials urge anyone who thinks they may be ill with an E. coli infection to see their doctor.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018, and the harvest season is over. People who get sick from toxin-producing E. coli come down with symptoms about three to four days after swallowing the germ, with many suffering bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Young children and adults have a greater risk of developing a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is life-threatening.

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