First death reported in romaine-linked E coli outbreak

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Marler notes that, following a 2006 E. coli outbreak involving baby spinach that killed three people and sickened almost 200 others, the CDC made it a priority to be able to trace the origins of food-poisoning cases.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed one person had died.

The unusually high hospitalization rate of 51 percent shows the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 is particularly risky.

The nationwide food poisoning outbreak from E. coli-contaminated romaine lettuce has claimed its first fatality, an unidentified person in California, and the contagion has sickened a total of 121 people in 25 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The death occurred in California, which now has the most cases, 24.

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The CDC continues to warn against purchasing or consuming romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region, where the outbreak is suspected to have originated.

Other states reporting people sickened by E. Coli include Washington, Michigan, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and MA.

Most people recover in five to seven days. In some cases, it can be life-threatening as victims develop kidney failure. As of the update Wednesday, the illness onset dates for the outbreak victims range from March 13 to April 21. One Arizona farm has been linked to E. coli in whole head romaine, but at least two dozen locations are under investigation.

The latest illness onset was April 21, and the CDC said infections occurring after April 11 might not be reported yet, due to the average 2- to 3-week interval between symptom onset and case reporting. Contact your doctor and write down what you've eaten if you get sick. This includes lettuce in a salad mix. "The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads". But most infections are believed to be linked to chopped romaine.

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