Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Medical | By

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

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

Five people have now died in a major E. coli outbreak in the USA involving romaine lettuce, with 197 cases reported across 35 states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 25 more people had been infected since its last report on 16 May.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is investigating the outbreak alongside the CDC, believes that the probable link to all these illnesses is romaine lettuce sourced from the winter growing areas in and around the Yuma region in Arizona.

It takes two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported to CDC. Canadian health officials also recently identified E. coli cases in several provinces that could potentially be linked to the outbreak in the United States. The five dead were reportedly from Arkansas, New York, California and, with two cases, Minnesota. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota.

"Some people who became sick did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had close contact with someone else who got sick from eating romaine lettuce".

Officials said that first illness began sometime between March 13 and May 12.

"We are actively evaluating a number of theories about how romaine lettuce grown on multiple farms in the same growing region could have become contaminated around the same time", Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Stephen Ostroff wrote.

The reported strain of E. coli, which produces poisonous substances known as Shiga toxins, can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Among those who fell ill, 89 people were hospitalized.

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