Coli update: 121 infections and one death

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The 2018 E. coli outbreak connected to tainted romaine lettuce has claimed its first death: a California resident. Utah health department officials would not provide other details about the individual who was infected.

"Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick", the CDC reports.

The CDC is investigating the source of the outbreak, and said last week that it has identified at least one farm, Harrison Farms of Yuma, Arizona, that may have been a source of the germ.

The CDC is still advising people to not eat or buy romaine lettuce unless they can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, area. The outbreak began on March 13, and the most recently confirmed case took place on April 21.

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The agency's update said 121 illnesses spanning 25 states have been reported, with cases now in Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah. Some people develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the form of kidney failure that can make a hit of E. coli fatal. But investigators have not specified when and where that lettuce became contaminated with the unsafe bacteria, and the farm has not been linked to other cases.

Laboratory testing in April determined that the strain of deadly E. coli behind the outbreak, known as O157:H7, produces a toxin known to cause more severe illness, which could explain the high hospitalization rate, the CDC said.

People get sick from the E. coli bacteria an average of three or four days after swallowing it, according to the CDC. That's all the information the US agency gives in that regard as it still maintains that, "no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified". The chopped romaine that was the initial clue in this outbreak also came from Yuma, Arizona, but officials have not been able to pinpoint a farm or distributor.

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