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For Release: September 3, 2008
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications

Situation Update No. 8
Outbreak of Severe Diarrheal Illness in Northeastern Oklahoma

While the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) continues its investigation into the source of an E. coli 0111 outbreak in northeastern Oklahoma, many of the persons who were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak have recovered and are being released from area hospitals. State health officials believe the total number of persons hospitalized at the peak of the outbreak exceeded 50; about 27 are currently hospitalized.

The OSDH investigation continues to focus on the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, OK. Most of those who became ill reported eating at the restaurant from Aug. 15 through Aug. 23. OSDH officials are sampling and testing food preparation and serving surfaces in the restaurant for any E. coli 0111 contamination. They also continue to interview persons who may have eaten at the restaurant during that time period. The restaurant is closed while the investigation continues.

At least 206 persons have become sick as a result of the outbreak including 149 adults, 53 children, and four whose ages have not yet been confirmed. Cases range in age from 2 months to 88 years. One person has died.

Not all persons who ate at the restaurant have become ill. No other restaurant or food service outlet in the area has been linked to the outbreak and OSDH officials stress they do not believe a source for additional illness related to the outbreak exists in the community. To prevent secondary infections – those passed from persons who have already been ill to others – public health officials urge practicing good hand hygiene by washing hands after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and before, during and after food preparation. Persons with diarrhea should not prepare food.

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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