- The multistate outbreak has claimed the lives of five people
- Most of the newly reported sick people became ill when contaminated lettuce was still available
Symptoms, which begin about three to four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC. Most people infected by the bacteria get better within five to seven days.
Of the total 187 patients for whom information was available, 89 (or 48%) were hospitalized, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome include fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. Most people recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.
To avoid E. coli infections, experts advise thoroughly cooking meat, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and juices, avoiding swallowing water while swimming and washing hands regularly.
Romaine lettuce from this area is no longer available in stores or restaurants, according to the FDA.
“The agency is examining all possibilities, including that contamination may have occurred at any point along the growing, harvesting, packaging, and distribution chain before reaching consumers,” the statement said.
Most of the newly reported sick people became ill within the period when contaminated romaine lettuce was still available. Some patients did not report eating the lettuce, though they had close contact with someone else who’d become infected.