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For Release: September 9, 2008
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications

Situation Update No. 12
Outbreak of Severe Diarrheal Illness in Northeastern Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) said today that analysis of environmental samples taken from the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, OK, indicated no disease-causing pathogens were found on the restaurant’s surfaces. The restaurant has been the focus of an ongoing investigation into the source of an E. coli 0111 outbreak in northeastern Oklahoma.

“We found no firm evidence of E. coli 0111 on food preparation and serving surfaces,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. “I would caution, however, that it is very challenging to go to the scene of a food-borne illness outbreak and try to retrieve an organism from surfaces that may have been cleaned since any contamination took place.”

E. coli 0111 was identified from laboratory specimens of patients sickened by the outbreak.

Laboratory analysis of foods sampled at the restaurant is continuing.

“It is possible that any environmental contamination was not widespread in the restaurant, so our epidemiological investigation will continue to focus on what foods may have been contaminated and caused persons to become ill,” Bradley said.

The OSDH is continuing to interview families who had children who ate at the restaurant Aug. 15-17 to determine the possible association of illness to specific food items. Most persons who became ill reported eating at the Country Cottage the weekend of Aug. 15. Persons can call the OSDH at 1-800-990-2769 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day through this Friday, Sept. 12.

Where available in northeastern Oklahoma, the public may call 2-1-1 for more information about the outbreak. Additional information is also on the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Web site at www.health.ok.gov.  Click on “Current Features – Severe Diarrheal Illness Outbreak.”

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