Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Dead, Nearly 200 Sickened In Romaine Lettuce Outbreak

Dead, Nearly 200 Sickened In Romaine Lettuce Outbreak

The deaths are spread over a tremendously wide area that includes Arkansas, Minnesota, and NY. "While traceback continues, the FDA will focus on trying to identify factors that contributed to contamination of romaine across multiple supply chains", the FDA said in a statement. According to the CDC, a multistate outbreak of the bacteria is linked to romaine lettuce originating in the Yuma, Arizona, region.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the death tally Friday, more than two months after the first illnesses occurred in mid-March.

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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. Some patients did not report eating the lettuce, though they had close contact with someone else who'd become infected.

This is the worst outbreak since 2006, when 205 people became ill and five died after contracting E. coli from baby spinach. According to certain critics, government investigators may never be able to get to the bottom of the crisis now that the growing season for the lettuce is over, and the vast majority of it has been removed from consumer shelves. The romaine lettuce you see in the stores right now is safe to consume. Officials are looking into the water supply, equipment, and processing facilities as possible sources of the outbreak.

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The risk from the E. coli contaminated bacteria was said to have subsided over two weeks ago, according to health officials. There is usually a gap between when a person consumes a contaminated food and when they actually start experiencing symptoms of illness.

The update said: "Illnesses that occurred after May 6, 2018 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported".

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Some people who have fallen ill may have not even consumed any contaminated lettuce. 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. It produces a potentially deadly poison called Shiga toxin.

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