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Four more die in E.Coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Four more die in E.Coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

In the past two weeks an additional 25 people have also become ill from eating the contaminated lettuce, the CDC announced.

Unlike spinach, which is often cooked, romaine - and lettuce in general - is more common as a culprit in E.coli outbreaks because it's eaten raw. Health officials said there are now 197 cases across 35 states. At least 89 were hospitalized. The five dead were reportedly from Arkansas, New York, California and, with two cases, Minnesota.

"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.

The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on May 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the lettuce from that region is past its shelf life and is likely no longer being sold in stores or served in restaurants, the FDA said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, O157 E.coli symptoms include diarrhea, which could be bloody, as well as abdominal cramping or pain, and in some people, nausea. While almost 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.

Officials urge anyone who thinks they may be ill with an E. coli infection to see their doctor.

The recent E. coli outbreak is the most severe to hit the USA since 2006, when three people died in an outbreak linked to uncooked spinach. A total of 26 people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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