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Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak: 4 More People Die, 25 More Get Infected In The US

Jun 04, 2018 12:23 AM EDT
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The casualties caused by the E. coli linked to romaine lettuce continue to rise, with nearly 200 cases in 35 states of the United States.

The current E. coli outbreak is the worst that have occurred in the country in more than a decade.

E. Coli Continuing To Spread

An update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that four more have died from E. coli, bringing the fatality total to five since March.

Two people died from Minnesota, while Arkansas and New York saw one death each. The first death was from California.

Far more people have fallen sick to the infection, though. A total of 197 people have been affected by E. coli so far with 89 needing hospitalization as a result. Of this number, 26 have developed kidney failure, specifically a kind called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Officials say that the E. coli making people sick have been traced to the romaine lettuce produced from the Yuma growing region in Arizona. Harvest season and shipments are over, and the lettuce are believed to be all gone at this point due to the limited shelf life of the vegetable.

CNN reveals that this is considered the most widespread outbreak of E. coli, since 2006 when it was connected to spinach.

"The FDA's investigators are actively searching for answers as to the source of this outbreak, and what steps can be taken to prevent it from recurring in future growing seasons," a joint statement from the Food and Drug Administration's Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Stephen Ostroff, M.D. read.

About E. Coli

E. coli, or specifically Escherichia coli, is a group of bacteria that's found in food, intestines, and the environment. While not all kinds of these bacteria are harmful, some can be quite serious — as evident by this recent outbreak.

Symptoms vary, but it often include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. A fever can sometimes occur. The CDC says that in most instances, the patients get better in five to seven days.

However, 5 to 10 percent of patients develop hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, which is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms of this complication are reduced urination, exhaustion, and losing the pinkness in the cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

Recovery is possible within a few weeks, but it could also lead to permanent damage or death.

Health officials advice those who display symptoms to seek medical help. In the future, they also encourage being more diligent in trying to avoid the disease by washing hands religiously.

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