Death toll rises to 5 in US tainted lettuce outbreak

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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 The warning is no longer in effect as the contaminated lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region is no longer harvested.

Four more people have died from tainted romaine lettuce, federal health officials said Friday, bringing the total to five deaths related to a virulent strain of E. coli whose source has still not been located. The growing season there ended six weeks ago, and it's unlikely any tainted lettuce is still in stores or people's homes, given its short shelf life.

Some affected people did not report eating romaine lettuce, but had contact with those who fell ill after consuming the popular salad plant, the CDC said. The new CDC report announces four more deaths - one in Arkansas, two in Minnesota and one in NY. There have been 197 people sickened in 35 states, the CDC report said. Canadian health officials also recently identified E. coli cases in several provinces that could potentially be linked to the outbreak in the United States.

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The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on May 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the largest U.S. outbreak of E. coli since 200 people fell ill in 2006. Eighty-nine people have been hospitalized, and 26 of them developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. People who get sick from toxin-producing E. coli come down with symptoms about three to four days after swallowing the germ, with many suffering bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

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