Four more people dead from E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Four more deaths have been linked to a national food poisoning outbreak blamed on tainted Arizona-grown romaine lettuce

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

Three reported illnesses in Texas have been linked to the multistate outbreak of a unsafe bacteria in romaine lettuce, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two deaths from the current outbreak occurred in Minnesota, and one each in Arkansas, California, and NY. This is the worst multistate outbreak since 2006, when contaminated spinach was linked to 238 illnesses and five deaths. At least 89 people were hospitalized. The new CDC report announces four more deaths - one in Arkansas, two in Minnesota and one in NY. Officials have still not targeted the exact source of the lettuce but have focused on Yuma, Arizona.

Officials said that first illness began sometime between March 13 and May 12. While almost 90 percent of those who fell ill reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were sickened, some told the CDC that they did not personally eat the lettuce but were in close contact with somebody who did.

"We are actively evaluating a number of theories about how romaine lettuce grown on multiple farms in the same growing region could have become contaminated around the same time", Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Stephen Ostroff wrote.

According to the Mayo Clinic, O157 E.coli symptoms include diarrhea, which could be bloody, as well as abdominal cramping or pain, and in some people, nausea.

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

This story has been corrected to show that the state with two deaths was Minnesota, not California.

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