Investigators have yet to make serious progress against an E. coli outbreak that’s already claimed at least five lives while sickening hundreds more. According to the CDC, a multistate outbreak of the bacteria is linked to romaine lettuce originating in the Yuma, Arizona, region.

The CDC claimed that at least 197 people in 35 states have become ill thanks to the E. coli outbreak, resulting in 89 hospitalizations and five deaths total. The deaths are spread over a tremendously wide area that includes Arkansas, Minnesota, and New York. The CDC claimed that the majority of those who fell ill did so thanks to eating lettuce that was still on store shelves before a recall notice stripped the tainted product from most stores.

According to the FDA, which is seriously investigating the outbreak, the E. coli originated from lettuce from Harrison Farms in Yuma, Arizona. The FDA has yet to determine where the actual contamination took place, given the massive supply chain that the romaine lettuce must traverse to get from one location to another. According to certain critics, government investigators may never be able to get to the bottom of the crisis now that the growing season for the lettuce is over, and the vast majority of it has been removed from consumer shelves.

One Washington Post report contended that the E. coli flare-up, which is the largest to strike the U.S. in a decade, is likely to go unsolved if federal investigators don’t make serious headway soon. Traditionally, industry-spanning investigations of this nature require federal, state, and local officials to work in tandem with one another, creating a dizzying investigation network that can be troubled when it comes to identifying if any one individual was responsible.

Since the E. coli outbreak was originally reported in early April, it’s continuously grown more and more severe ever since. Symptoms of E. coli vary, but by and large include bloody excrement and severe stomach cramps. Most E. coli cases are relatively mild, but certain cases can deteriorate, causing death in the most extreme circumstances. Individuals concerned that they may have eaten tainted romaine lettuce should contact their healthcare professionals, though the lettuce in question has long-since been stripped from grocery store shelves.

Not everyone who became ill with E. coli ate the lettuce – some infected individuals were merely in close contact with others who had eaten the tainted food supply.

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