Coli outbreak in lettuce spreads even futrther, more deaths confirmed

Some of the tainted lettuce tied to the massive E. coli outbreak in the United States was from Imperial County.

Health officials announced on Friday that five people have now died after consuming tainted lettuce from Arizona, making this the nation's largest E. coli outbreak in a decade. On Friday, health officials said they have learned of four more - another in California as well as one each in Arkansas, Minnesota and NY.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating the outbreak with the CDC, has said it believes it can be traced to romaine lettuce sourced from the Yuma growing region in Arizona. But there can be a lag in reporting, and reports of illnesses have continued to come in. In a June 1 advisory, the agency said that four additional deaths were reported in Arkansas, North Carolina and NY in addition to the original death in California.

Many patients in this outbreak became so ill that they needed to be hospitalized, including 26 who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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Officials said that first illness began sometime between March 13 and May 12.

Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe stomach cramps. 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.

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

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. Two of the latest deaths were in Minnesota.

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