Five dead as E coli outbreak spreads across the US in contaminated lettuce

Canadian health authorities fear the bacteria has spread to the country

197 cases of E coli have now been reported
197 cases of E coli have now been reported

Five people have died due to an E coli outbreak across the United States, thought to be spread by romaine lettuce.

Two of the victims are from Minnesota, with the others being from New York, California and Arkansas.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 197 cases of the deadly disease across 35 states, making it the largest E coli outbreak since 2006, when 200 people were affected.

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is no single grower or distributor to be blamed for the outbreak, and is still investigating, Arizona’s Yuma growing region is thought to be the source of the contaminated lettuce.

The outbreak hasn’t only affected people who have eaten the lettuce, but also in some cases people they have come into contact with.

Since the initial outbreak in April, the strain of E coli has spread throughout the US, with most cases recorded in California and Pennsylvania which lie on the West and East Coasts of America, respectively.

Eighty-nine people have been hospitalised due to the outbreak, with 26 of these suffering from liver failure.

Health experts have noted that the growing season in the Yuma region ended several weeks ago, so it is unlikely any romaine lettuce currently in people’s homes is contaminated.

In a Twitter post, the FDA confirmed: “Any contaminated product from the Yuma growing region is no longer available for consumption.”

Canada’s Public Health Agency has also reported six cases of E coli with a “similar genetic fingerprint” to that found in the US infections.

E coli is contracted by eating food contaminated with the bacteria, which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and in extreme cases, kidney failure.

An E coli outbreak in Dorset between 2014 and 2015 led to several people being hospitalised, including a 21-month-old boy who had to be placed in a medically induced coma.

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