More deaths in the E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce

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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 Centers for Disease Control says the deadly E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce crops has expanded into three more states and that five people have now died as a result. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people's homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life. While they have traced the toxic E. coli strain to the Yuma growing region, they are still looking for the precise source - whether it originated in the water supply, harvesting equipment, a processing plant in the area or somewhere else.

Some affected people did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had contact with those who fell ill after consuming the popular salad plant, the CDC said. Deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY with two of those deaths happening in Minnesota. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota.

Officials said that first illness began sometime between March 13 and May 12.

In an update Friday, health officials said 25 more cases raised the total to 197 illnesses in 35 states.

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

Many patients in this outbreak became so ill that they needed to be hospitalized, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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.