5 dead, almost 200 sickened in romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

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Most of the people who recently became ill ate romaine lettuce when lettuce from the Yuma (AZ) growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, or in peoples' homes.

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.

Four more people have died as a result of the E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce, bringing the total to five deaths, health officials reported Friday.

In addition, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the case count: 197 people from 35 states were sickened. At least 89 were hospitalized. Health officials say it's unlikely that any contaminated lettuce is still in circulation due to its 21-day shelf life.

The patients who died were from Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY.

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

Numerous new cases were people who became ill two to three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce was still being sold. 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.

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.

This is the largest outbreak of its kind since a deadly E.coli outbreak in 2006 that was linked to spinach, CNN reported. Of those three cases, two developed a potentially fatal condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome that sometimes leads to kidney failure.

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