Arkansas Death in Multistate E. coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

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In the spring, the CDC linked the outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in and around Yuma, Arizona.

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.

Five people in the United States have died after eating romaine lettuce that was contaminated with E. coli bacteria, whose source remains a mystery, officials said Friday.

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Twenty five more people have confirmed to have contracted the disease who also reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. The last harvest was collected on April 16, and because the lettuce only has a 21-day shelf life, it is highly unlikely that any lettuce covered by the advisory is still available. Deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY with two of those deaths happening in Minnesota. On Friday, health officials said they have learned of four more - two in Minnesota and one each in Arkansas and NY.

As of May 30 the investigation figures show 197 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 35 states.

Sickness can begin three to four days after swallowing E. coli, with symptoms of diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

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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.

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

Of those who became ill, about half had be hospitalized, with 26 developing a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, the CDC said.

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