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

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Health officials announced on Friday that five people have now died after consuming tainted lettuce from Arizona, making this the nation's largest E. coli outbreak in a decade. The lettuce was harvested on April 16, 2018 and harvest season is now over.

When a person becomes infected with the bacteria, it can take two to three weeks before a report to the CDC. "The latest reported illness started on May 12", the CDC said.

"Eighty-nine people out of 187 with available information (48 percent) have been hospitalized, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome", the CDC said.

From E. coli in lettuce have died to 5 people.

The deaths have been reported in California, Arkansas, Minnesota and 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.

But don't throw out your romaine just yet.

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For romaine lettuce growers it meant abandoning the popular green, or shifting production out of Arizona and into other areas like California.

The agency also warned restaurants not to serve romaine lettuce to customers.

The specific type of E. coli linked to this outbreak makes 265,000 people in the US sick, sends 3,600 to the hospital and kills about 30 each year, the CDC reported.

Note: The CDC says an important step in preventing E. coli infection is to wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.

The CDC stressed that E. coli illness can be very serious, even deadly.

It usually takes an average of three to four days to after eating contaminated food for people to begin experiencing symptoms. It may cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

While most people recover within a week, some illnesses can last longer and be more severe, the CDC cautioned.

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