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For Release: September 4, 2008
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications

Situation Update No. 9
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, health officials stress that persons should not be fearful of eating, visiting and otherwise doing business or participating in recreational activities in the community of Locust Grove, site of the Country Cottage restaurant, the focus of the investigation. No other restaurant or food service outlet in the area has been linked to the outbreak and public health officials stress they do not believe a source for additional illness related to the outbreak exists in the community.

Nearly 600 persons have now been interviewed as part of the outbreak investigation and the OSDH says an additional 200 interviews are pending, many added in the last couple of days as more persons were identified as meal companions of those previously interviewed.

In addition, the OSDH public health laboratory continues to analyze new patient laboratory specimens as well as environmental samples taken from the restaurant’s food preparation and serving surfaces. “This analysis is a time-consuming and multi-step process as we work to identify suspicious disease-causing bacteria and allow them time to grow to a point where we can identify if they are indeed our culprit E. coli 0111,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.

“Our challenge has been to try and find answers as quickly as possible while conducting a thorough and scientific investigation,” Bradley said. “We believe that we are in the final phase as we recheck data, conduct call-back interviews, and review and compare laboratory reports to the investigation database.”

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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