Major E.coli outbreak in U.S.; 5 dead

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The four additional deaths occurred in Arkansas, New York, and two in Minnesota.

With the tainted vegetables now off the shelves and the growing season over, the FDA may never crack the case, frustrating consumer advocates who have called on the agency to issue rules that would speed up future investigations of food-borne illnesses, The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey reported.

Q: What caused the massive E. coli illness outbreak from romaine lettuce? Some people who became sick did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had close contact with someone else who got sick from eating romaine lettuce.

This is the worst outbreak since 2006, when 205 people became ill and five died from E. coli from baby spinach. Twenty-six developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that can be life-threatening to people with weak immune systems, such as young children and the elderly.

The CDC said that three more states - Arkansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma - have reported ill people and four more deaths have been reported: one in Arkansas, two in Minnesota and one in NY. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota.

Symptoms vary, but it often include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. "So any immediate risk is gone", FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, wrote in a statement. Yuma is the place where the contaminated lettuce is believed to have originated from. This lettuce had become contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7.

It can take weeks to track down the source of a food poisoning outbreak.

Far more people have fallen sick to the infection, though. Most people infected by the bacteria get better within five to seven days. These steps can include suppliers, distributors and processors where the lettuce was chopped and bagged, and then back to the farm or farms that could have grown the lettuce that ended up in those bags.

"It's a labor-intensive task".

Both FDA and CDC have reiterated that the romaine lettuce in question is no longer available for consumption. A total of 197 people have been affected by E. coli so far with 89 needing hospitalization as a result.