Five Dead, Nearly 200 Sickened in Romaine Lettuce Outbreak

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Getty Images iStock

Four more people have died as a result of the E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce, bringing the total to five deaths, health officials reported Friday. There have been 197 people sickened in 35 states, the CDC report said.

In the past two weeks an additional 25 people have also become ill from eating the contaminated lettuce, the CDC announced. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota.

Two deaths from the current outbreak occurred in Minnesota, and one each in Arkansas, California, and NY.

The Arizona growing season is long over and it's unlikely any tainted lettuce is still in stores or people's homes. While they have traced the toxic E. coli strain to the Yuma growing region, they are still looking for the precise source - whether it originated in the water supply, harvesting equipment, a processing plant in the area or somewhere else.

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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Numerous new cases were people who became ill two to three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce was still being sold.

Unlike spinach, which is often cooked, romaine - and lettuce in general - is more common as a culprit in E.coli outbreaks because it's eaten raw.

According to the latest statement from the CDC, numerous people affected fell ill two to three weeks ago, when the contaminated lettuce was still on shop shelves.

Of the total 187 patients for whom information was available, 89 (or 48 per cent) were hospitalised, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Bacteria sickens almost 100 people across 22 states; Claudia Cowan reports.

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