WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- A total of 84 people have so far fallen ill due to an ongoing outbreak of E. coli illness in 19 U.S. states after around 60 people who have been confirmed sick said they had consumed tainted romaine lettuce, according to local media reports.
Of the sickened, 42 people have been hospitalized, among whom nine were diagnosed with kidney failure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday. There have been no deaths reported to date.
The source of the outbreak is under investigation. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration believe romaine lettuce from the city of Yuma in the state of Arizona could have triggered the disease, yet no farm has been identified. The Yuma area grows most of the lettuce harvested in the United States during the winter months, according to local media.
The CDC advised people to dispose or not to eat any romaine lettuce if not sure where it was grown. Other states affected by the outbreak include Pennsylvania with 18 reported cases, California with 13, and Idaho with 10, according to CDC statistics.
E. coli is a bacterium that can exist in animal or human feces. Most people infected by the bacteria suffer symptoms for about three to four days after consuming contaminated food or drinks, which normally include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.