Five dead, nearly 200 sickened in romaine lettuce outbreak

Four more deaths from eating tainted lettuce reported

The CDC's May 30 update released on Friday also reveals that 25 more ill people from 13 states were added to the investigation since the last update on May 16.

According to a Time report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the four additional deaths include two people from Minnesota, a person from Arkansas, and a person from NY.

"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 number of illnesses and deaths linked to a multistate E. coli outbreak has risen.

It takes two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported to CDC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 197 people in 35 states have been sickened in the outbreak. Other kinds of E. coli cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia.

The US Food and Drug Administration, 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 growing region in Arizona. Of 187 people with information available, 89 (48%) have been hospitalized, including 26 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

The FDA said it may take a while to find out how the bacteria got into so much of the romaine lettuce supply. Many new cases there were two or three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce is still sold.

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. Most of the people who got sick recently ate romaine lettuce in restaurants and stores.

This strain is involved in the Yuma romaine outbreak. Officials have still not targeted the exact source of the lettuce but have focused on Yuma, Arizona.

For most, recovery will occur within a week, but more severe cases last longer.

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