E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce killed 5, sickened 197

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E. coli is a large group of bacteria found in the intestine of many living organisms, but some strains can lead to illness. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Five people were killed and nearly 200 were sickened by an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, but the threat of new cases has likely passed, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In a June 1 advisory, the agency said that four additional deaths were reported in Arkansas, Minnesota and New York in addition to the original death in California.

A total of 197 cases were reported across 35 states, and 89 of them required the patient to be hospitalized. Twenty-six of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure.

While nearly 90 percent of those who fell ill reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were sickened, some told the CDC that they did not personally eat the lettuce but were in close contact with somebody who did. Canadian health officials also recently identified E. coli cases in several provinces that could potentially be linked to the outbreak in the United States.

In the spring, the CDC linked the outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in and around Yuma, Arizona. According to the agency, new cases of E. coli are unlikely now that the harvest season is over in Yuma. The last harvest was collected on April 16, and because the lettuce only has a 21-day shelf life, it is highly unlikely that any lettuce covered by the advisory is still available.

That being said, the CDC continues to investigate the outbreak and warned that new cases from May could still come to light due to a three-week lag in reporting.
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healthfoode. colicdccenters for disease controlu.s. & world