5 dead, nearly 200 sick in romaine E. coli outbreak

Five people have died in a major E.coli outbreak in the USA involving romaine lettuce, with 197 cases reported across 35 states, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That brings the total death count from the recent E. coli outbreak to five. In total, 197 people across 35 states have become sick since March 13.

Health officials have tied the E. coli outbreak, the largest in a decade, to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona.

Since mid-May, "four more deaths were reported, bringing the total to five deaths from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and NY (1)", the CDC said in a statement. The new CDC report announces four more deaths - one in Arkansas, two in Minnesota and one in NY.

Previously one death had been reported, in California. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota. Twenty-six of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure.

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Most new cases involve people who became sick two or three weeks ago, when the tainted lettuce was still available for sale.

The growing season in the Yuma, Ariz., region, which produced the contaminated lettuce, ended April 16.

Almost half of those who became ill had to be hospitalized.

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. Canadian health officials also recently identified E. coli cases in several provinces that could potentially be linked to the outbreak in the United States.

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

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