One dead, 14 sickened in possible E. coli outbreak
BY DEON HAMPTON and KIM ARCHER, World Staff Writers
Sunday, August 24, 2008
8/25/08 at 5:44 PM
Search Restaurant Health Inspections:
Search restaurant inspections recorded from 2004-2008 by the Tulsa City-County Health Department.
Search restaurant inspections for any county in Oklahoma.
One person died and at least 14 others are suffering from illnesses possibly related to E. coli, health officials have confirmed. At least 20 other cases are under investigation.
Those who have become ill live in Bixby, Pryor, Sand Springs, Locust Grove, Broken Arrow, Peggs, Tulsa and McAlester.
Twenty-six-year-old Chad Ingle is the person who died over the weekend, according to family members.
He worked at RCB Bank in Pryor.
The Oklahoma State Health Department, Tulsa Health Department and several northeastern Oklahoma county health departments are looking at all likely sources, including restaurants and specific food sources.
An early investigation indicates a large number of persons who became ill ate at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, officials at the health department said. The restaurant is working closely with the OSDH to assist in the investigation. No source has been identified.
But that 22-year-old, family-owned restaurant has been found to be "in compliance" with state health department standards, said Amanda Clinton, spokeswoman for the family that owns the restaurant. The Health Department inspected the restaurant Saturday night and told them they could remain open.
"There isn't any evidence that this is where this man got sick," she said. "It's really been damaging for the family. The family is devastated. And their prayers are with this man's family."
Later, she emphasized again that "Words cannot express how utterly devastated the family is that this gentleman has passed away, and that there are those who believe his
illness came from eating at their restaurant. ... I can't tell you how crushed and saddened they are by all of this."
The restaurant will be closed Tuesday, "so we can continue our own
investigation and continue working closely with the state health
department to rule out the restaurant as the source of this illness," the restaurant's owners said in a statement.
"The story is moving just a little faster than our investigation," said Larry Weatherford, state health department spokesman.
Locust Grove Mayor Shawn Bates said there is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with the town's water. But to be safe, he said he has asked the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to test the water Monday.
Patients started coming into St. Francis late last week, and officials there notified the Oklahoma State Health Department on Friday.
Patients started going into Integris Mayes County Medical Center last Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, said Charles Jordan, hospital administrator.
All of the patients were being seen in the hospital's emergency room with abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.
But the diagnosis of E. coli still hasn't been confirmed, said Bennett-Webb, of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“This is a huge puzzle we’re figuring out,” Bennett-Webb.
Known as Escherichia coli, or E. coli, are a large and diverse group of bacteria.
Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick.
Some forms of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia and other illnesses.
Bennett-Webb said the restaurant and other areas and establishments in Locust Grove were inspected Sunday. “We’re looking everywhere,” Bennett-Webb said.
Register for Email Newsletters: TulsaWorld.com now offers 25 Email Newsletters that can be sent directly to your inbox. Pick from topics and writers from every section, as well as Breaking News Alerts. Already a registered user? Visit the My Account home page or create a new account.