Coli outbreak in lettuce spreads even futrther, more deaths confirmed

The Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating the outbreak with the CDC, has said it believes it can be traced to romaine lettuce sourced from the Yuma growing region in Arizona.

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

That brings the total death count from the recent E. coli outbreak to five. Health officials said there are now 197 cases across 35 states.

In the update Friday on the nation's largest E. coli outbreak in a decade, health officials said 25 new cases have been added, and at least 89 people were hospitalized. In a June 1 advisory, the agency said that four additional deaths were reported in Arkansas, North Carolina and NY in addition to the original death in California. Health officials say it's unlikely that any contaminated lettuce is still in circulation due to its 21-day shelf life.

After the initial outbreak, the CDC issued a warning on romaine lettuce.

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

Symptoms, which begin about three to four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC.

Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe.

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 risky strain of the bacteria. A total of 26 people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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