Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

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

The disease appears to have been spread from romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma region of Arizona. That being said, the CDC continues to investigate the outbreak and warned that new cases from May could still come to light due to a three-week lag in reporting.

Tainted lettuce may be off store shelves, but the ramifications of the nationwide romaine E. coli outbreak aren't over yet. At least 89 people were hospitalized. Deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY with two of those deaths happening in Minnesota.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the last shipment of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was harvested on April 26, and the season there is over.

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The outbreak is the largest in the United States since 2006, when spinach tainted with a similar strain of E. coli sickened more than 200 people.

The CDC also noted that some people who became sick had not eaten romaine lettuce, but had close contact with someone else who get sick from eating it.

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. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018 to May 12, 2018.

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Almost half of those who became ill had to be hospitalized.

Symptoms, which begin about three to four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC. 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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