This is the first death associated with the outbreak, which has now sickened 121 people from 25 states and sent at least 52 people to the hospital, according to the CDC. The illnesses are specifically related to romaine grown in the Yuma, Ariz. region, the agency says.
The California Department of Public Health was not immediately able to provide details about the deceased person, or the circumstances around their death.
People exposed to E. coli bacteria typically develop gastrointestinal issues that clear within about a week. This outbreak, however, is resulting in unusually high rates of hospitalization — roughly half of the sickened individuals have been hospitalized, as opposed to around 30% in typical E. coli outbreaks — and higher-than-average rates of complications, including a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. The first reported death underscores the severity of the E. coli strain driving the outbreak.
Until further notice, the CDC is advising consumers to avoid romaine lettuce unless they can confirm it was not grown in the Yuma area.