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FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2007
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Woman sickened in E. coli outbreak dies

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — A 48-year-old woman who was sickened in an E. coli outbreak at a Huntsville restaurant earlier this summer has died and one of the victims is still hospitalized, state health officials said.

Health Department analyst Chris Sellers said Thursday staff members were still in the process of contacting the woman's family and would release more information later.

"One of the cases that we investigated as part of the outbreak has passed away," he said. "We have not confirmed the cause of death."

The Huntsville Times reported that the woman's family requested that she not be named. She tested positive for the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in early July and had spent weeks on dialysis in Huntsville Hospital's medical intensive care unit before her death. Kidney failure is a complication of E. coli poisoning.

Public health officials traced the E. coli outbreak to shredded lettuce served at Little Rosie's Taqueria between June 27 and June 30. Eighteen people who ate at the popular restaurant on those dates tested positive for the bacteria.

A 19th person who tested positive did not eat at Little Rosie's and got the bacteria from another source, officials said.

Regina Lassiter, 69, of Huntsville is the only victim still in the hospital. She was scheduled to be transferred to Huntsville Hospital from Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C.

Her daughter, Jane Lassiter, said the family is thrilled she has gotten strong enough to be moved by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital. But, after being bedridden for nearly two months, Regina Lassiter will need extensive physical rehabilitation, she said.

State Health Department officials say that it is safe to eat at Little Rosie's and that the contamination was limited to late June.

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Information from: The Huntsville Times, www.al.com/hsvtimes/hsv.html

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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