E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce killed 5, sickened 197

Four more people dead from E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Five people in the United States have died after eating romaine lettuce that was contaminated with E. coli bacteria, whose source remains a mystery, officials said Friday. In total, 197 people across 35 states have become sick since March 13.

Some affected people did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had contact with those who fell ill after consuming the popular salad plant, the CDC said. The new CDC report announces four more deaths - one in Arkansas, two in Minnesota and one in NY.

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The patients who died were from Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating the outbreak with the CDC, has said it believes it can be traced to romaine lettuce sourced from the Yuma growing region in Arizona. The last harvest was collected on April 16, and because the lettuce only has a 21-day shelf life, it is highly unlikely that any lettuce covered by the advisory is still available. This is the worst multistate outbreak since 2006, when contaminated spinach was linked to 238 illnesses and five deaths.

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After the initial outbreak, the CDC issued a warning on romaine lettuce. Eighty-nine people have been hospitalized, and 26 of them developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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 risky strain of the bacteria.

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Almost half of those who became ill had to be hospitalized. People who get sick from toxin-producing E. coli come down with symptoms about three to four days after consumption, with many suffering bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

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