Published: Sun, June 03, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

CDC confirms five deaths connected to E. coli-tainted lettuce

The latest batch of illnesses are believed to be linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region. Since lettuce has a 21-day shelf life, it is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the area remains in restaurants, stores or people's homes, the CDC said. There is typically a lag between the time when someone falls ill and the CDC is alerted. On Friday, health officials said they have learned of four more - two in Minnesota and one each in Arkansas and NY. 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. A total of 26 people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018, and the harvest season is over.

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

"Any contaminated product from the Yuma growing region has already worked its way through the food supply and is no longer available for consumption", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

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. Some said they did not eat romaine lettuce but were in close contact with someone who got sick after eating it.

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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.

Symptoms of E. coli vary, but include may include stomach cramps, fevers, bloody diarrhea and vomiting among others.

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