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For Release: August 26, 2008
Contact: Larry Weatherford
Office of Communications

Situation Update No. 2
Outbreak of Severe Diarrheal Illness in Northeastern Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) continues to investigate an outbreak of severe diarrheal illness among residents of several northeastern Oklahoma communities. No source of the illness has yet been identified.

At least 17 cases have been hospitalized and 40 or more cases are under investigation. One person has died.

While disease investigators from the OSDH, Tulsa Health Department, and several northeastern Oklahoma county health departments are looking at all likely sources, early investigation has revealed that a large number of persons who have become ill ate at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, OK. The restaurant is working closely with the OSDH to assist in the investigation and has voluntarily closed its operations today.

State public health laboratory officials continue to analyze specimens taken from ill persons to try to determine the diagnosis. Signs and symptoms of these cases include diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and severe abdominal cramping. Fever is generally mild to absent. Persons with these symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately.

While no source of the outbreak has yet been identified, public health officials are using this opportunity to stress the importance of hand washing techniques for all households as well as businesses that serve food to the public. "To prevent the spread of disease in your home and workplace, wash your hands frequently with soap and running water, particularly before, during and after preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. She emphasized that persons who have diarrhea should not prepare meals.

For more information on hand hygiene and food safety, check out resources that can be found at this OSDH Web site: http://ads.health.ok.gov

Northeast Oklahoma Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreak Updates

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