Tainted Lettuce Outbreak Across United States Hospitalises 64

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Federal health officials say Canadians have been stricken by a strain of E. coli with an identical genetic mic to romaine lettuce in the US southwest that's sickened 149 individuals in 29 nations.

Almost 150 people in 29 states - including four states reporting cases for the first time - have become sick from an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. It's unclear if new illness are still occurring.

According to the latest CDC data, the most-recent E. coli illnesses related to this outbreak started on April 25.

Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas are new to the outbreak.

There have been 64 people hospitalized due to the outbreak and of that number, 17 have developed a condition known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome. The first deathrelated to the outbreak was reported in California last week.

The CDC continues to recommend that consumers do not eat or buy romaine lettuce unless they can confirm that it is not from the Yuma region. HUS symptoms begin a few days after E. coli symptoms, and include decreased urine output, lethargy, pallor, and easy bruising.

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People who believe they've contracted a foodborne illness should contact the CDC at 1-800-232-4636. The agency did note, however, that of 112 affected people whom state and local health officials interviewed, 102 said they ate romaine lettuce in the week prior to having symptoms of E. coli infection.

If the Canadian market is selling contaminated romaine lettuce, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will recall the product.

Typically in winter, romaine lettuce is grown in Arizona because it has the right temperature.

A fifth person diagnosed with the E.coli infection was recently confirmed, officials said. One person in required hospitalization, but all recovered.

Products containing romaine lettuce often don't indicate growing regions, so it could be hard for consumers to tell whether the vegetable they're buying is tainted with bacteria.

Although the current outbreak has stretched on for nine weeks, the CDC still hasn't identified the contamination source or where all of the suspect lettuce was grown.