More deaths in the E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce

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According to the agency, most people who become sick start experiencing symptoms three to four days after consuming produce tainted by Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157:H7.

Five people in the United States have died after eating romaine lettuce that was contaminated with E. coli bacteria, whose source remains a mystery, officials said Friday. On Friday, health officials said they had learned of four more - one in Arkansas, one in NY, and two in Minnesota. Officials have still not targeted the exact source of the lettuce but have focused on Yuma, Arizona. Deaths have been confirmed in Arkansas, California, Minnesota and NY with two of those deaths happening in Minnesota.

"Most of the people who recently became ill ate romaine lettuce when lettuce from the Yuma [Arizona] growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, or in peoples' homes", the report said.

Since mid-May, "four more deaths were reported, bringing the total to five deaths from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and NY (1)", the CDC said in a statement.

The CDC has not pinpointed the exact source of the outbreak, but the lettuce appears to have been contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, a particularly risky strain of the bacteria.

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The CDC also noted that some people who became sick had not eaten romaine lettuce, but had close contact with someone else who get sick from eating it.

While most people recover within a week, some illnesses can last longer and be more severe, the CDC cautioned. There have been 89 people hospitalized, and 26 who developed a type of kidney failure due to the infection.

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education.

The first death was announced in early May in California.

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