Five dead after E.coli outbreak in US linked to tainted lettuce

At least 89 people taken to hospital amid America’s largest outbreak in a decade

Health officials have tied the E.coli outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images/File photograph

Health officials have tied the E.coli outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images/File photograph

 

Four more deaths have been linked to a national food poisoning outbreak in the US blamed on tainted lettuce, bringing the total to five.

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

The growing season there ended six weeks ago and it’s unlikely any tainted lettuce is still in shops or people’s homes, given its short shelf life.

However, there can be a lag in sickness coming to light and reports of illnesses have continued to come in.

In an update on Friday on the US’s largest E.coli outbreak in a decade, health officials said 25 more cases have been identified, raising the total number of illnesses to 197 in 35 states.

At least 89 people have been taken to hospital.

Previously one death had been reported, in California. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more — one in Arkansas, one in New York and two in Minnesota.

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

Many of the new cases were people who became ill two to three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce was still being sold. Some said they did not eat romaine lettuce but were in close contact with someone who became ill after eating it.

Most E.coli bacteria are not harmful but some produce toxins that can cause severe illness.

People who get ill from toxin-producing E.coli come down with symptoms about three to four days after swallowing it, with many suffering bloody diarrhoea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

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