Report: Source of Okla. E. coli outbreak a mystery

April 9, 2009 By MURRAY EVANS , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- An extensive investigation has failed to determine how E. coli bacteria was introduced into a northeastern Oklahoma restaurant linked to hundreds of illnesses and one death, the state health board said in a report released Thursday.

The report said analysis suggests there was ongoing foodborne transmission of the bacteria at the Country Cottage in Locust Grove from Aug. 15 to Aug. 24.

But the report said that since no specimen of the bacteria was found in the restaurant, investigators couldn't determine how it was introduced or spread.

Food samples from the restaurant were examined and showed no signs of contamination, but officials said it was possible the tainted food had already been thrown out.

"What is important to remember is that when responding to an infectious disease , our primary objective is to rapidly identify the source of the infection to contain the outbreak and prevent any further spread," State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said in a statement.

"Within 48 hours of being notified of increased cases of persons with bloody diarrhea being admitted to Tulsa area hospitals, we identified the Country Cottage restaurant as the common source of transmission. The restaurant closed voluntarily and the outbreak was contained."

According to the report, there were a total of 341 cases of people sickened by the bacteria; 70 were hospitalized and one died. Several young children required dialysis after being sickened.

The Oklahoma Health Department spent 6,481 hours investigating the outbreak, the largest in the nation's history for the rare E. coli strain O111.

The restaurant, which is about 50 miles east of Tulsa, was allowed to reopen after agreeing to a number of conditions including disconnecting a private well on the property, allowing for repeat environmental testing in the restaurant upon request and implementing a monitoring system for employee hand-washing, among others.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has suggested that tainted well water may have been to blame for the outbreak. He is pursuing a lawsuit against Arkansas poultry companies, alleging that chicken waste has polluted water supplies in the region.

Poultry companies say there's no evidence their industry is responsible for water pollution in the area.

Health inspectors examined a private water well located on the restaurant property, water filters, and the Locust Grove municipal water supply and found no E. coli 0111.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 10 outbreaks involving E. coli O111 had been reported nationally prior to Oklahoma's outbreak.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Screening could catch a quarter of hip fractures before they happen

December 15, 2017
Community screening for osteoporosis could prevent more than a quarter of hip fractures in older women - according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

New cellular approach found to control progression of chronic kidney disease

December 15, 2017
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that extracellular vesicles - tiny protein-filled structures - isolated from amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs) can be used to effectively slow the progression of kidney damage ...

Testing shows differences in efficacy of Zika vaccines after one year

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers with members from Harvard Medical School, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bioqual Inc. and MIT has found that the efficacy of the three types of Zika vaccines currently ...

How to regulate fecal microbiota transplants

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A small team of researchers at the University of Maryland, some with affiliations to the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, has written and published a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science ...

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.